Police, sheriff urge safety as new school year ramps up


As thousands of local children begin heading back to school, the Rome Police Department, Oneida County Sheriff Robert M. Maciol and AAA Northeast are urging motorists to slow down and think safety as a new school year begins to ramp up.

Rome Police Det. Jeffrey M. Lanigan said drivers should follow all posted speed limits within designated school zones, as well as follow the state law for pedestrians’ right-of-way at crosswalks. The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous for walking children – over the last decade, nearly one-third of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 and 7 p.m., according to AAA.

Here are some tips provided by the Rome Police Department:

  • Be familiar with the locations of schools in your daily travels. Make sure that you slow down and be especially alert when driving close to schools.
  • Be aware of your local schools’ traffic flow plan for dropping off and picking up your child. Use the designated drop-off location.
  • Do not drop your child off or pick them up on the non-school side of the street.
  • Do your best to arrive early for school. Children trying to hurry can be unpredictable and put themselves in dangerous situations.
  • Remember, the school crossing guards, police officers and school staff present near the school are there to help insure the safe and efficient flow of traffic before and after school. Follow their directions.
  • If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk at least 10 feet ahead of the bus along the side of the road until you can turn around see the driver.
  • Make sure the bus driver can see you.
  • Wait for a signal from the driver before beginning to cross.
  • When the driver signals, walk across the road keeping an eye out for sudden traffic changes.
  • Do not cross the center line of the road until the driver has signaled that it is safe for you to begin walking.
  • Stay away from the wheels of the bus at all times.
  • Whether getting on or off the bus, stay 10 feet ahead of the bus when crossing the street in front of it and never walk behind the bus.

“Parents should teach their children not to dart between parked cars, to wait on the curb for the bus to arrive, and only cross at intersections,” Lanigan said.

“AAA’s annual School’s Open – Drive Carefully awareness campaign is designed to curb a trend of unsafe driving behavior in school zones and neighborhoods that can result in children’s injury and death,” said Ed Welsh, AAA Northeast regional general manager. “We must remind motorists to slow down and stay alert as kids head back to school.”

Sheriff Maciol added, “Very soon, thousands of children will be walking to and from school and school buses — many for the first time, everyone who drives has a responsibility to be especially careful during this busy time for youngsters.”

AAA and Sheriff Maciol offer some 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 going.
  • 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.

AAA’s “School’s Open — Drive Carefully” campaign was launched in 1946 in an effort to prevent school-related child pedestrian traffic crashes – helping kids to live fulfilling,
injury-free lives.


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