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They’re back.

Next Tuesday morning, more than 180,000 students will head to public schools across Fairfax County. Some will walk. Many will drive. Most will hop on a school bus.

The point here is not the number of students or how they get to school, but the number of opportunities for accidents involving those kids.

When school opens, thousands of big and slow yellow buses will return to the highways, many arriving at their destination well before the sun comes up. Sure, they’re annoying when they crawl along ahead of you, stopping repeatedly to pick up or drop off youngsters while you fume about the one-lane road and the prospect of arriving late for a key meeting at work.

But remember: These buses are full of children. Many are very young children out on their own for the first time. Many elementary school students don’t quite remember that they should look both ways before crossing. They just go.

Same goes for headphone-wearing high school students crossing busy intersections and middle schoolers who bounce basketballs 18 inches from the main road.

So all drivers—not just those with little ones in school—should add more time to their travel schedules and leave for work, the grocery store or a dentist’s office four or five minutes earlier. An ounce of proper planning can alleviate stress, which dramatically reduces the chance of making a bad, potentially tragic decision.

The most critical consideration as we get ready for another school year—and every day, for that matter—is safety. So let’s all get some rest, leave the house earlier and remember to be extra alert and respect school bus lights and other restrictions that take effect every September.

After all, the goal for all of us is getting to and from our destinations safely.