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Back-to-school safety tips for motorists

As the shadows of the long summer days begin to shorten, school-age children across Connecticut will soon head back to school. As harried parents and anxious children attempt to get back into school mode, it's important that drivers to be extra cautious during this time of year. This is especially important for drivers who routinely navigate neighborhood streets, drive near or past schools and encounter school buses.

Children rely upon all sorts of modes of transportation to get to and from school including cars, buses, bicycles and their own two feet. Areas in neighborhoods near schools are often teaming with children who are walking and biking to and from school. For motorists who are navigating through these neighborhoods, it's important to slow down and ensure one's focus and attention is solely on the road. At any time, a child could dart across the street and a driver must be prepared to slow or stop.

For parents who drop students off at school, it's important to only do so in designated drop off zones. With so many children getting out of vehicles and rushing to class, motorists must be extra cautious and ensure they don't double park or unload children in an unsafe area where they are forced to cross the street or are not visible to other vehicles.

Drivers who encounter school buses out on pick-up and drop-off routes are advised to stop any time a bus stops and engages its flashing lights. Whenever a bus's stop sign is out and lights engaged a child is either being dropped off or picked up. In either case, it's illegal to pass a bus that has it's flashing lights engaged as doing so puts children in danger of being injured.

The National Safe Routes to School program reports that "more children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location." As Hartford area students gear up for another year of learning and fun, drivers must ensure they follow traffic laws and remain vigilant when encountering pedestrians, bicyclists and buses.

Source: NSC.org, "Slow Down: Back to School Means Sharing the Road," Aug. 25, 2015

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