The Car Coach: School bus safety
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The kids are back at school and we all need to remember to slow down in those school zones and watch out for busses. Here are some rules to remind you about how to drive safer.
Pedestrian-vehicle injuries are a leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 14. Kids are back from summer camp, school is in session again, and school buses are out on the streets. That means drivers need to step-up safety around school zones, crosswalks, bus stops, and wherever children may be playing outside.
Sgt. David Martek of the New York State Police said, "People that are standing by the road need to be aware that even though they are waiting for a school bus, a driver may not be looking for them particularly. So they should always be alert and stay as far back from the road as they can."
Be familiar with school zones. Get in the habit of noticing where school zones and crosswalks are located on routes that you normally take.
"You can be delayed in your commute five, six, maybe 10 minutes sometimes between school busses and crossing guards. You just can't get frustrated. Leave a little early," Martek said.
Always stop for school buses with flashing red lights.
"When there are yellow lights on, be ready to slow down," Martek said. "When they are red, you can't pass, ever. It's a five point violation, $250 fine, plus it can get worse than that. So that extra second isn't worth it."
School crossing guards are given police training and the same authority as local traffic police in most areas, so obey all crossing guards. Drive with headlights on in areas with children and pedestrians. The use of headlights can reduce pedestrian accidents by about 25 percent. Remember that the speed limit in most school zones during school hours or when children are present is 25 miles per hour. Bad weather, or areas with limited visibility, will require a lower speed. Your visibility to pedestrians, your ability to see them, and your stopping distance all may be greatly impaired by weather or road conditions, so slow down.
Martek said, "We need to be focused on our driving. Expression I like to use is to keep your hands on the wheel and your mind on the road. Concentrate because people take driving for granted; they don't take it seriously."