Police are reminding drivers in the villages that with the holiday weekend over, local children are heading back to school.
Police and safety groups such as the New York chapter of AAA warn that many children and school buses will be on the streets during the mornings and afternoons starting on Wednesday, and that drivers should be on alert for an increase in pedestrians and remember to stop for school buses that have activated their warning signals.
The afternoon hours are especially dangerous for walking children, with AAA noting that over the last decade, nearly one-third of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 and 7 p.m.
“More than 1,200 children lost their lives during these after-school hours between 2000 and 2010,” said Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, AAA manager of Traffic Safety Advocacy, “Although we’ve seen a steady decrease in the number of tragedies each year, it’s important to remember that one death is one too many.”
Throughout New York, State Police Major Edward Raso said state troopers help support the AAA’s annual “School’s Open—Drive Carefully” campaign. Raso said motorists will receive an reminder to drive carefully each time they see one of the “School’s Open” bumper stickers on state police patrol cars as well as other official vehicles, school buses and passenger cars.
"With the start of the school year upon us, parents, friends, and citizens must work with law enforcement to keep our young citizens safe by making sure we all pay particular attention to walking children, school bus traffic, and school zones,” New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said.
Raso said motorists should be particularly alert for children darting out between parked cars on busy streets.
Here are six more tips from AAA:
- Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
- Eliminate distractions. Children often cross the road unexpectedly and may emerge suddenly between two parked cars. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
- Reverse responsibly. Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, driveway and around your vehicle before slowly backing up. Teach your children to never play in, under or around vehicles—even those that are parked.
- Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and more than one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 to 7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at TeenDriving.AAA.com.
- Come to a complete stop. Research shows that more than one third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop, checking carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.
- Watch for bicycles. Children on bikes are often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and the bicycle. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that they wear a properly-fitted bicycle helmet on every ride. Find videos, expert advice and safety tips at ShareTheRoad.AAA.com.