All across Howell students are getting on their buses for the first time as they start a today.
Whether the bus stop is in a development or on a rural road the is asking drivers to be extra careful driving through town to make sure everyone stays safe.
Sgt. Joseph Markulic said safe driving is important not only for the children waiting at their stops but also the drivers on the road. "Morning traffic can be a dangerous time for children, as they travel to the bus stop, ride their bike to school or walk along their routine path," he said. "Afternoon introduces additional risks as the ring of the bell marks the sound of freedom for school-age children."
Markulic said it is important for drivers to remember that students may not be paying full attention when walking on the roads. "Unfortunately, children are often distracted by thoughts of playtime, cell phone use or are unable to accurately judge traffic situations while on their journey home," he said.
The speed limit in school zones is 25 MPH, which Markulic said can go a long way in keeping children in the area safe. "According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a pedestrian struck by a vehicle at 25 MPH is nearly two-thirds less likely as compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 MPH faster," he said.
To make sure township children are kept safe during the school year Markulic said the department will be "monitoring bus routes to ensure motorists are stopping for buses utilizing their red lights and stop bars." He added, "Motorists who are caught for violating this law will receive five points to their license and possibly insurance surcharges."
The township administration is also encouraging drivers to be safe on the roads now that school is in session. In an email to residents Mayor Robert Walsh and the rest of the council warned against the potential dangers of unsafe driving. "Unfortunately, during this time of year we hear of tragic stories of children being struck by a vehicle while walking, waiting or loading or unloading a school bus," they said. "Most types of these incidents are completely preventable if we just slow down."
More information can also be found on the district's newly redesigned website.
AAA also provides these additional safety tips:
Drivers Tips to Keep School Children Safe
- Limit distractions such as cell phones, CD players or other devices that cause you to take your eyes off the road. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
- Stay Alert and slow down in or near school and residential areas. Don’t rush into and out of driveways. Expect pedestrians on the sidewalk, especially around schools and in neighborhoods.
- Stop at stop signs. It sounds obvious, but research shows that more than one third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods.
- Look for clues such as School Safety Patrols, Adult Crossing Guards, bicycles, and playgrounds, which indicate children could be in the area.
- Drive with your headlights on - even during the day - so children and other drivers can see you.
- Always stop for school buses that are loading/unloading students.
- Pay particular attention near schools during the morning and afternoon hours and plan ahead. Leave early for your destination and build extra time for congestion.
- Practice extra caution in adverse weather conditions.
Safe Walking Tips for Children
- Always obey Adult Crossing Guards and AAA School Safety Patrols.
- Before crossing - look all ways.
- Obey all traffic signals.
- Use crosswalks and corners to cross the road.
- Where there is no sidewalk and it is necessary to walk in the roadway, walk facing traffic and as far from the roadway as possible.
- Avoid crossing between parked cars.
- Watch for cars. Be sure that the way is clear before you cross.
Remember, school's open - drive carefully. You can make a difference just by staying alert and taking the extra care while driving where children are present.
Additional resources for parents and students to review from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)