Archive for Thursday, August 14, 2003

Opinion: Easy does it in school zones

August 14, 2003

Surely it doesn't need to be said, but we'll say it anyway: with the resumption of classes in a few days, we all need to be especially watchful of young learners as they make their way back to school.

The American Automobile Association reminds that may children may be going to school for the first time and may be unaware of the dangers at school crossings. Likewise, older children may be a bit careless in their habits after a summer of play.

"The opening of school is a hectic time for everyone," says Mike Right, AAA vice president. "Children are excited to be going back to school and to their friends. Parents are trying to get to work and get their children to school on time. Often they're distracted and may not be focused on basic traffic safety practices."

Remember children are not young adults. Their peripheral vision, for example, is one-third narrower than adults. Children may also make the mistake of assuming that if they can see a car, the driver can see them.

Children are active, inquisitive and impetuous, and never miss an opportunity to explore something that interests them -- even if that means venturing into the street. Many children know little of pedestrian safety rules, and even those that do are likely to forget them in pursuit of a rolling ball or wind-tossed school paper.

AAA offers these safety reminders:

  • When in school zones, watch for reduced speed limit signs that become effective when classes are in session.
  • Remember the law about stopping before passing or overtaking a school bus stopped to pick up or discharge children.
  • Watch for youngsters riding bicycles. They may appear suddenly from a blind spot.
  • If you are a parent, help your child map out his or her safest way to school. And remember that traffic hazards near schools multiply when children are dropped off and picked up.
  • Remember that school traffic controls such as stop signs, traffic signals, adult crossing guards and safety patrols are now operating. Our summer driving habits must change to look for and obey these special traffic controls.
  • Anticipate the actions of youngsters and be ready for anything by reducing speed in areas where children are present.

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