School’s Back in Session, Please Drive Carefully
While motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of injuries and fatalities to children, a significant amount of injuries and fatalities happen to children who are pedestrians. With more than 10,000 K-12 students returning to schools in Park Ridge, motorists will see an increase in children crossing streets, riding bikes and boarding school buses.
Motorists should be extra attentive this time of year, staying on the lookout for children during their daily commute. They should also be aware of certain state laws as they pertain to school traffic safety including:
When the red lights at the top of the bus are flashing and the stop arm panel is extended, motorists are required to STOP at any location. This includes, but is not limited to, motorists traveling from either direction on a two-lane roadway; motorists traveling in any lane on a one-way street; and/or motorists traveling through parking lots.
The only exception to this law is as follows:
The driver of a vehicle upon a highway having four or more lanes which permits at least two lanes of traffic to travel in opposite directions need not stop such vehicle upon meeting a school bus which is stopped in the opposing roadway; and need not stop such vehicle when driving upon a controlled access highway when passing a school bus traveling in either direction that is stopped in a loading zone adjacent to the surfaced or improved part of the controlled access highway where pedestrians are not permitted to cross.
Flashing amber lights are activated during the last 100 feet traveled by the school bus before stopping within an urban area (200 feet outside an urban area). The amber flashing signal lamps serve as a pre-warning that the bus is preparing to stop. Flashing red lights and the extended stop arm mean that the bus is stopped to either load or unload school children.
The use of cellular telephones by drivers is prohibited while traveling on a roadway through a marked highway construction or school zone. The law contains an exemption for people using voice-activated mobile telephones.
Motorists are reminded that, effective January 1, 2014, cell phone use of any kind is prohibited while driving unless using a hands free device. Officers from the Park Ridge Police Department will spend extra time in school zones, each day throughout the year and will enforce violations of these laws to ensure the safety of our children.
Parents should also be proactive in teaching their children safe walking habits. Following are tips from the Park Ridge Police Department:
- Younger children should always be accompanied by an adult. Older children should always have a walking buddy.
- Involve children in selecting the safest route. Take a practice walk with your children along the route so they become familiar with it.
- Discuss the use of crosswalks and why it's safer to cross at some corners rather than others.
- Discuss the meanings of traffic signals and markings along the route.
- Teach your children that it's important to cooperate with police, school safety patrols and adult crossing guards.
- Teach your children to stop, listen and look for approaching and turning vehicles.
- Set a good example for your children – their actions and attitudes are modeled after their parents.
In addition, for those who travel near the area of Western and Touhy, special care should be taken as the Centennial Pool project is underway. Heavy equipment will be in that area during the upcoming months and drivers are cautioned to pay extra attention for students walking to and from school.
Traffic safety information for parents and children is available at: http://www.nhtsa.gov/Pedestrians/.