As kids are heading back to school this week, driving safety is on the minds of many locally.
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, the leading cause of injury and death for school-age children is pedestrian crashes, and the most dangerous time is now as kids are heading back to school.
Oneida County Sheriff Rob Maciol and AAA are reminding drivers to slow down and stay alert in local neighborhoods and school zones, and to watch out for pedestrians before and after school hours.
They’re also reminding drivers that it is illegal to pass a school bus.
Now is the time for drivers to refresh and practice patience and safe driving practices as buses are on local routes again, and it’s also a time for parents to remind kids of safety precautions when making their way to school.
“We ask parents to tell their kids, hey, remember all the safety lessons they received for crossing streets,” said Ed Welsh of AAA. “Make sure that they look both ways, in fact look two, three times before they cross. Make sure that they walk, don't run across intersections.”
“Technology has improved an awful lot; a lot of school buses now are equipped with cameras on the arms that come out,” Maciol said. “So not only will the bus driver be able to capture a description of the driver, but the camera's going to grab a snap shot of the license plate.”
Maciol says that in New York State alone, 50,000 school buses are passed each day. A person convicted of passing a school bus could get five points added to their license.
AAA and Sheriff Maciol offer the following tips on how to keep kids safe this school year:
- Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 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 never to 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-quarter of fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 to 7 p.m. Parents can get information and tips to pass on to their children at www.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.
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