2010-08-28 / News

Drivers cautioned to stay alert in school zones

COLUMBUS – With thousands of Ohio children heading back to school, the Division of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) reminds motorists to stay alert in residential areas, near schools and in school zones.

“Schools, families and students are changing from summer to school-year routines, so this is a good time to remind motorists to be prepared to see children walking to school and bus stops in the early morning hours,” said Ohio Department of Public Safety Director Thomas J. Stickrath. “Parents and teachers can help by reminding students to be aware of their surroundings to keep themselves safe while traveling to and from school.”

According to preliminary data from Ohio’s Trauma Acute Care Registry, there were 98 child pedestrians severely injured in the state last school year (August 2009 through June 2010).

Drivers are reminded to observe the law and use caution when driving near school buses. There is no passing on either side of the road when a school bus has its red lights flashing. The flashing lights mean a child is leaving or entering the school bus. Motorists should be vigilant near schools and slow down to obey all posted school speed limits as well.

Here are tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for motorists to help keep children safe while traveling to and from school:

• Pay attention to your surroundings: when backing out of a driveway or leaving a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school. Know your neighborhood school zones and watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be paying attention to their surroundings.

• Slow down: Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood. In addition, watch for children playing and congregating near bus stops.

• Be alert: Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.

• Learn and obey the school bus laws:

• Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.

• Red flashing lightsand extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.

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