School’s are open; please, drive care­fully

Record Observer - - Opinion -

Schools opened this week in Queen Anne’s County, putting dozens of school buses and thou­sands of chil­dren back on the roads dur­ing the morn­ing and early af­ter­noon hours, of­ten at the same time as many com­muters.

“With schools start­ing back and the days get­ting shorter, we all need to pay ex­tra at­ten­tion and al­low ex­tra travel time since com­mutes will be im­pacted,” ad­vises the State High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Driv­ers are urged to be alert and drive with care as they drive through neigh­bor­hoods and school zones and as they drive near school buses.

Na­tion­wide, more than one-fifth of all chil­dren be­tween the ages of 5 and 15 killed in traf­fic crashes in 2012 were pedes­tri­ans (207 deaths), ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional High­way Traf­fic Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion. Pedes­trian in­juries for this age group to­taled 12,000 in 2012.

“Back-to-school is an ex­cit­ing time for chil­dren, but un­for­tu­nately, they are un­pre­dictable and not al­ways mind­ful of traf­fic safety. Chil­dren may have dif­fi­culty gaug­ing the dis­tance and speed of an ap­proach­ing car, and may strug­gle to rec­og­nize and react to po­ten­tially haz­ardous sit­u­a­tions,” said Myra Wie­man, traf­fic safety pro­gram man­ager, Mid-At­lantic Foun­da­tion for Safety and Ed­u­ca­tion. “Stu­dents will be gath­er­ing at neigh­bor­hood bus stops and walk­ing to and from school dur­ing con­cen­trated times of the day. Mo­torists are re­minded to use ex­tra cau­tion, slow down, and ob­serve lower speed lim­its in school zones and res­i­den­tial ar­eas. This is a great time for par­ents and care­givers to re­mind chil­dren of traf­fic rules and safety.”

Driv­ers are re­minded that it’s the law to stop for sta­tion­ary school buses that have ac­ti­vated their flash­ing red lights with the stop arm ex­tended, as the bus is load­ing and un­load­ing chil­dren. In fact, other traf­fic is sup­posed to stop 20 feet from the bus in ei­ther di­rec­tion. This is the most dan­ger­ous time as chil­dren get­ting on or off a bus can dart any­where.

Most fa­tal­i­ties in­volv­ing school buses oc­cur when other driv­ers ig­nore the law, the flash­ing lights and the stop arm and pass a stopped school bus as a child is cross­ing the road.

The only time it’s OK to pass a stopped school bus with its flash­ing lights on and stop arm ex­tended is if your ve­hi­cle is on the other side of a high­way di­vided by a me­dian — so you are es­sen­tially on a dif­fer­ent road­way.

Driv­ers must be pa­tient. Re­al­ize your com­mute takes longer when school is in ses­sion — al­low more time. Know that traf­fic fines can be dou­bled in school zones.

Stay alert and avoid dis­trac­tions — es­pe­cially use of cell phones and tex­ting, both of which are against the law while driv­ing in Mary­land. Watch for chil­dren walk­ing in the street, es­pe­cially if there are no side­walks in the neigh­bor­hood. Drive de­fen­sively, an­tic­i­pate school bus stops and keep a safe dis­tance. Chil­dren and par­ents need to re­view the rules of the road, too. If trav­el­ing by school bus, have a safe place to wait for the bus, away from traf­fic and the street, and stay away from the bus un­til it comes to a com­plete stop and the driver sig­nals you to get on.

When walk­ing, cross at marked cross­walks where avail­able. Be­fore cross­ing a street, look both ways, and stay alert.

Let’s make this a safe school year!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.