Opinion

August 7, 2013

Watch for school kids out on the street

It seems the garden is just coming in and the crepe myrtles are starting to look their finest and yet it’s back-to-school time.

That last phrase often sparks dread into anyone under 18 but should also be a reminder to all motorists to be even more aware that kids are on the streets.

Dalton Public Schools and Whitfield County Schools start their year on Thursday. In Murray County, school doors won’t open until after Labor Day, on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

First things first: Slow down. Drive the posted speed limit, especially near schools.

The Dalton Police Department issued a statement recently that motorists should be aware that delays are likely to occur on roadways where schools are present due to congestion. Drivers should keep an eye out for children in crosswalks and while buses stop to load and unload.

And remember, children often are late for the school bus and can dart from nowhere into the street. Remember, these kids have been playing outside the past couple of months and feel almost too comfortable running across the street.

When you see a school bus, remember that it is illegal to pass a bus that has stopped to load or unload children. Traffic in both directions needs to stop on undivided roads when students are going into or leaving a school bus.

The National Safety Council notes that the area 10 feet around a bus is where children are most in danger of being hit. Motorists should stop their vehicles far enough away.

Also, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that riding a bus to school is 13 times safer than riding in a passenger vehicle and 10 times safer than walking to school. But the agency also notes that children who lose their lives in bus-related crashes are usually pedestrians who are 4 to 7 years old.

To drive home the message about driving safely in school zones, the police department reminds drivers that a reduction in speed is mandatory in any school zone marked with an appropriate sign and flashing signal. Those caught violating that law are subject to doubled fines.

That should make drivers take notice.

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