AAA Western and Central New York, along with law enforcement, has kicked off its annual “School’s Open, Drive Carefully” campaign as back-to-school season gets underway. With school buses back on the roads, commuters should give themselves extra time and be prepared for bus traffic. Motorists should also be cognizant of less-experienced students drivers returning to high school and college.
AAA’s School’s Open, Drive Carefully campaign was launched nationally in 1946 to help reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities. Now, 77 years later, AAA clubs across the country continue to promote the campaign annually to remind motorists to watch out for children as they travel to and from school.
“With more distractions before the wheel, this long-standing program is more important now than ever before,” said AAA WCNY Communications Specialist Valerie Puma. “As children head back to school this week, AAA wants to remind everyone to use extra caution on the roads. Parents, please talk to your young children about traffic safety and discuss safe driving with your teen drivers so they understand their new responsibilities as young drivers.”
“Motorists need to stop for flashing red lights of stopped school buses, even on divided and multi-lane highways. Drivers need to watch out for children walking or riding their bicycles to school,” said Sgt. James Snell, Chairperson of the Onondaga County Traffic Safety Advisory Board. “Obeying the traffic laws concerning school zones, stopped school buses, and school zone crossing guards and pedestrian crossings is critical.”
Law enforcement agencies are reminding motorists to respect school buses and avoid distracted driving. “We are asking for the community’s help. Pay attention. Try not to drive distracted, put the cell phone down. If you see a big yellow school bus, anticipate that this vehicle will be stopping,” said Cicero Chief of Police Steve Rotunno. “It is imperative that we have the community’s help in getting our kids to school and home safely every day.”
Law enforcement officers across Onondaga County will be watching for vehicles passing stopped school buses, motorists speeding in school zones and distracted drivers, Rotunno said.
As children go back to school, AAA offers helpful reminders:
• Always stop for a school bus when the lights are flashing
• Slow down
• Remove all distractions from the driver – put cell phones down
• Do not pass other vehicles
• Obey crossing guards at all times
• Expect the unexpected
• Check you mirrors before moving
• Teach your children the rules of traffic safety