Back to school also applies to vehicle drivers
THE ISSUE: School resumes this week for area schools.
OUR VIEW: Motorists need to be reminded to obey school zone speed limits and drive with caution.
CARLINVILLE (Aug. 16, 2018) – Many parents are happy to see school begin, claiming a part of their lives back from shuttling the kids all summer to a myriad of activities. Some parents on the other hand are sad to see the dog days of summer end as they will miss their children being home and the freedom from homework assignments. Whatever the situation may be, back to school rules apply to all motorists whether they are parents of children or not since keeping school traffic zones safe should be a top priority for drivers.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, seventy five percent of crashes involving young pedestrians occur between the hours of 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. when children are on their way to and home from school. On average 131 Americans die every year in school transportation related crashes.
The first rule to help avoid such accidents is to reduce one’s speed. While it seems obvious, many drivers choose to disobey the posted 20 mile per hour speed zone. One area principal recently told a gathering of parents to stop texting while in the school pick-up line. He noted that the school has many parents who are law enforcement personnel and he is encouraging them to issue tickets to anyone caught disobeying the law. While this may sound harsh to some, what kind of example does this provide students if their parent is not obedient. If it takes receiving a citation to reinforce the lesson and save a life, then so be it.
In addition to slowing down and not using one’s cell phone in school zones, motorists should also never pass a stopped school bus from either direction unless one is on the other side of a divided highway. When stopping behind a school bus, leave at least 10 feet between one’s vehicle and the bus. Watch for children in the roadway before continuing, even after the school bus has retracted its stop sign. Always be alert for crossing guards and children who may be distracted or crossing where there is no crosswalk such as in between cars or busses where they may be hidden.
Be especially watchful for children riding bicycles. Allow them to turn before you if at an intersection. Be mindful of cyclists when preparing to back up and when opening car doors. Take the time to inform children or grandchildren about practicing good safety tips, regardless of what mode of transportation they will be using.
We all know that children can behave unpredictably near traffic and no matter who technically has the right of way; it is a motorist’s responsibility to avoid collisions with pedestrians. Let’s make this a safe back to school beginning that continues throughout the entire school year.