Watch for those buses! School is back in session in Jersey
Back-to-school week means you'll be seeing more school buses on New Jersey roadways and more kids walking to and from school. So motorists need to be extra-cautious.
Mornings and afternoons are hectic when school first begins, so motorists need to be mindful of the times and how that coincides with the school day and their commutes, said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic.
She said for the first couple of days, motorists need to give themselves extra time in order to make those adjustments. She also said they need to slow down whether in school zones or in residential neighborhoods.
Noble said there's excitement. Kids dart out in between parked cars. So it's a good idea to slow down even below the 25 mph speed limit in those residential neighborhoods.
Also, drivers should always stop for a bus's flashing yellow and red lights, as the buses are preparing to stop, says Noble.
Patience is key. Nobile said motorists need to be patient even when leaving their homes, traveling through their neighborhoods. There could be multiple stops in the neighborhood and that means a school bus is making frequent stops.
Motorists need to pay attention. Put the cell phone down and eliminate any distraction at all times, but especially during school bus hours.
Parents should go over with their children the importance of using crosswalks, how to look left, right and left again before crossing. Kids should always be walking on the sidewalks facing traffic.
Also, if you have to drop your child off at a bus stop or at a school, make sure the child knows where he or she is supposed to cross and what to look out for.
Noble also said older children who walk to the bus stops on their own or to school should not be walking and texting. If they are going to listen to music while walking, they should walk with one earbud out so they can hear what's going on around them and they are not completely oblivious.
Even though it's September, it's going to continue to be hot. Everyone should know their responsibility, Nobile said. So if a parent is dropping a child off at school, that person or another parent should double-check to make sure no child is left in a car on the way.
New Jersey's pedestrian fatality rate is nearly double the national average. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, New Jersey ranked 17th in the nation in pedestrian fatalities in 2016.
Between 2013 and 2017, 824 pedestrians were killed statewide and more than 22,000 were injured. Pedestrian deaths account for 28.5 percent of all crash-related fatalities from 2013-2017, well above the national average of 15 percent.
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