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Safety Saves – Justin Doble

The month September begins with Labor Day, a day to honor those like you and I, who work for a living; who make this country's wheels turn. Labor Day is also the “official” end of summer. This means the roads and sidewalks will be crowded with kids and parents navigating their way through towns and country roads, some for the first time. Remember when you returned to school after summer break? Your mind was on anything but school. I know mine was!

Knowing that the kids are probably not thinking much about safety, we have to watch out for them, especially in school zones and at the bus stops. Big children, little children, and even adults will now be using crosswalks, sidewalks, and driveways around our schools. Watch for reduced speed limits in these zones in the morning and afternoon, and obey them. I know that many of you will have commuted to work long before school has started, but be cautious nonetheless. There are always those days you have to wait for the equipment dealer or parts store to open.

And let us not forget about those big yellow buses. Everyday across the country, nearly 500,000 buses carry more than 25 million students to and from school and related activities. With so many kids taking the bus, bus drivers have a tough job. I cannot imagine having 50 kids in the back of my bus screaming and laughing while I am trying to drive through traffic. And yet with all the school buses on the road across America on any given day, they continue to be the safest vehicles on the road and one of the safest modes of transportation overall. Kids are even safer riding in a school bus than they are riding in a car with their parents.

With that in mind, give school buses some extra room. Keep a close look out for stopped buses, flashing red lights, and the kid that waits until the last second to catch the bus and darts from one side of the street to the other. Also watch out for the impatient driver in your rear-view mirror that isn’t driving as cautious as you and is late for work or school. There are a lot of new drivers that got their licenses over the summer and are eager to get to school and show off their ride to their friends.

With fall on the horizon, expect frequent weather changes on your commute. Rain and fog can hamper your ability to see and break if a hazard arises. When was the last time you had to think about hydroplaning while driving? Well if history has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected in Montana. You just never know what kind of weather you are going to get. It may be a good time to change those weather cracked wiper blades after a long hot summer of smearing bug guts across your windshield. Now is a good time to check your tires and swap out that set with 40,000 miles on them. There are few things I enjoy more than a fresh set of tires going into winter.

The highways and county roads may have a few less Subaru’s on them with summer coming to a close, but with September upon us bow season is now in full swing. Expect pickup trucks, ATV’s & UTV’s to be found everywhere on our county roads and wide spots and trail heads. Maybe even the occasional hunter decked out in full camo walking a forest road just before daylight. Hunting season can also push critters to move locations more than usual. An entire herd of elk crossing the road in front of you is a common scene in our state this time of year. It seems in Montana, as soon as you mitigate 1 risk, another arises. So be sure to keep a sharp eye out for changes in road conditions and an increase in morning and afternoon traffic. For those of you taking a little time off to chase some deer or elk, I wish you good luck. It seems the woods have never been more crowded. But there are still some good places to get out and be successful. With that I will leave you. Take care of one another out there, in the woods and on the road. Look out for one another. And remember, $afety $aves!!!

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