REMINDERS ABOUT SCHOOL BUS & SCHOOL ZONE SAFETY
While some students are enjoying the final days of summer, some have already returned to school. Please be careful and watch for pedestrians and bus stops while driving. We’d like to stress that school zones have 20 mph speed limits while the yellow lights are flashing or as indicated by posted signs. This speed limit will be strictly enforced by officers in efforts to keep everyone safe. Here are some additional reminders and safety tips:
•Wait your turn near school buses: Passing a school bus while the red lights are flashing is subject to a $255 fine for the first offense when a school bus has stopped to load or unload children. This includes smaller vans with the “SCHOOL BUS” sign displayed.
•Pay attention to bus warning lights: A yellow flashing light means the bus is preparing to stop to let kids on or off. A red light means kids are getting on or off the bus.
•Give buses ample space to load and unload: Children are in the most danger of being hit by a vehicle within the 10 feet around a school bus. Massachusetts law requires motorists to stay back a distance of 100 feet behind the school bus. Violators can be fined $40.00
•Expect the unexpected: Children run and play, and they can come from anywhere
•Stop properly at stop signs and crosswalks: When a stop sign is displayed, motorists must stop for it. Drivers should stop completely at the stop sign, before the crosswalk area. Blocking a crosswalk could force kids to go around your vehicle, putting them in danger. And wait a bit before driving through as there are sometimes one or two children lagging behind that are now going to run through the crosswalk to catch up with the rest of the group. Failing to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk is subject to a $205 fine.
•Obey the speed limit: The faster you are going, the more likely you are to injure a pedestrian and to injure them more seriously.
Studies have found that 5 percent of pedestrians hit by a vehicle at 20 mph suffer a fatality. The fatality number increases to 45 percent when hit by a vehicle going 30 mph, and to 80 percent for a pedestrian hit by a vehicle traveling at 40 mph. And because of their smaller size, children fare even worse. Faster driving means longer stopping distances. At 20 mph, it takes an average vehicle 69 feet to come to a total stop, and nearly double that distance, to 123 feet, at just 30 mph, according to NHTSA.
•Put away electronic devices: Talking on your cell phone has been shown to reduce reaction time. Looking away for just 2 seconds doubles your chance of crashing. Texting while driving has been shown to be as dangerous as driving drunk, and is subject to a $105 fine.
•Make eye contact with pedestrians: If you haven’t made eye contact with them, assume that they haven’t seen you and that they are just going to keep on going.
•Follow the school’s drop-off rules: Oftentimes parents get very tempted to drop their child off across the street from the school and tell their child to just run across the street. Any time any pedestrian of any age is crossing the road, they are at a greater risk.
•Treat every kid as your own: It’s not always some unwary motorist who is responsible for school zone traffic accidents. Whether they’re dropping off or picking up their children, parents also often break school zone road rules. If you’re a parent, keep in mind that even if your children are safely in school or in your vehicle, you still have to watch out for their classmates. You’d want other parents to do the same for your kids.
This information is courtesy of the Upton Police Department