Back to school: Are you putting safety first?

COLUMBIA (WACH) - Hard to believe, but classrooms are already filling up for the start of a new school year. As you get ready to go back to school, law enforcement and school officials want to make sure that safety is on the top of your mind.

"A lot of our young people walk to school and take buses, which puts them on our roadways. As adults, we have to have the responsibility to be careful." says Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.

Sheriff Lott meeting with school officials Monday to talk about the importance of keeping students safe around cars while they come and go from school.

With 50,000 children across the Midlands heading back to class, law enforcement wants to make sure drivers are aware of thing like school zone signs.

Ignoring one of these could land you not just a speeding ticket, but also reckless driving charges.

You should also be on the lookout for buses.

"If you're on a two lane road, and that means traffic is going both ways, you have to stop for a school bus once it's amber red and the sign lights come out. Once you get into four lanes or more, that means two lanes are going one way and two lanes are going the opposite, if you're behind the bus, the easiest thing to remember is you have to stop. If you're facing the bus in two lanes, you can proceed. But please proceed with caution." says Sergeant Michael Pearson, a member of the Richland County Sheriff's Department's traffic safety unit.

You also have some help once kids get to school.

Resource officers and crossing guards make sure students stay safe when it comes to traffic, all the way up until they go home.

"They'll walk along the sides and when they get to the end, where the light is at, before crossing the highway, We have a crossing guard there from Richland School District Two who directs the traffic to make sure kids cross safely." says Donna Tucker, a school resource officer with the Richland County Sheriff's Department as she points to the intersection outside of Dent Middle School.

Once again showing that safety will be a number one priority this school year.