BALTIMORE—Households across the state are
making the transition from summer vacations to the back-to-school daily grind. As
parents prepare children with school supplies, fall clothing and study skills,
they need to add one more thing to the back to school checklist: reviewing the
rules of the road.
On average, more than 500 children are involved
in motor vehicle crashes each year in Maryland. We can help save lives and make
sure each child returns home safely by reviewing the “rules of the road.”
Leaders from the Maryland State Highway
Administration, AAA Mid-Atlantic, Baltimore Metropolitan Council, Baltimore
County Police and Public Schools recently gathered with students at
Randallstown Elementary School to help remind drivers and pedestrians of roadway
basics. The children and safety partners unveiled a new education campaign
featuring a crab mascot, a Maryland icon introduced as part of the successful Ocean
City Walk Smart! Campaign.
Through the three “E’s” of safety – engineering,
education and enforcement — the partners are working together to ensure that
children stay safe this school year. SHA engineers evaluated school zones along
state routes throughout the summer, making adjustments and adding traffic
devices like crosswalks, signs and flashing lights where needed.
“We cannot always be there to hold our
children’s hands, but we can protect them by arming them with the information
they need to navigate roads safely,” said SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters.
“Everyone needs to help spread the word that safety starts by walking smart and
staying alert as well as sticking to the basics such as using crosswalks and
looking left, right and left again.”
Motorists should be aware that enforcement is
another key component of education efforts, and local police departments will
be in full force in designated school zones where speed limits may be reduced.
“As students across Maryland begin to head back
to school as early as this week, we are urging motorists to be alert and
exercise caution in and around residential areas and school zones particularly
before and after school hours,” said Ragina C. Averella, Manager of Public and
Government Affairs at AAA Mid-Atlantic. “As children gather at neighborhood bus
stops, walk or bike to and from school, it’s imperative that motorists slow
down and observe the lower speed limits while driving through these areas.”
WHAT TO DO WHEN APPROACHING A SCHOOL BUS
• When a school bus stops, the flashing red
lights go on and the stop sign flaps come out, drivers coming from both
directions need to stop. Children getting on or off a bus can dart anywhere.
• Drivers must be patient. There is simply no
room for aggressive driving around a school bus.
• It is against the law to pass a stopped
school bus with its flashing red lights activated and stop arm extended.
DRIVERS NEED TO REMEMBER
• Realize that your commute takes longer when
school is in session – allow more time.
• Don’t put yourself in a position where you
have to rush. When drivers rush, they are more likely to make bad decisions.
• Understand that traffic fines can be doubled
in school zones. A ticket could cost you nearly $1,000.
• Stay alert. Avoid distractions, especially
mobile devices. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if
there are no sidewalks in the neighborhood.
• Remember that Maryland law requires motorists
to stop for pedestrians in all crosswalks.
WHAT PARENTS AND KIDS NEED TO KNOW
• Children and their parents need to review the
rules of the road.
• If traveling by school bus, have a safe place
to wait for the bus, away from traffic and the street, and stay away from
the bus until it comes to a complete stop and the driver signals you to enter.
• When walking, only cross the street at a
marked crosswalk, preferably one that has a crossing guard. Before crossing a
street, look left, then right, then left again. Stay alert. Follow signals.
• When riding a bike, don’t ever ride across an
intersection. Get off the bike and walk it across after looking both ways
for oncoming traffic or waiting for a crossing signal.
“We’re focused on making sure our children
arrive at school safely whether they are walking, traveling by school bus or by
car. Because smaller children have not yet developed the cognitive ability to
judge distance and speed, we’re asking that drivers be alert and extra vigilant
in their morning and afternoon commutes,” said Executive Director Dale R. Rauenzahn,
School Safety and Security Baltimore County Public Schools.