Public Officials Stress Safety for School Children on the Roads
With area schools opening for the new school year, local and county officials are reminding motorists to be aware of the kids’ traffic.
“Each September we remind motorists to be cautious of not only school buses loading and unloading children, but also of the thousands of children that walk and bicycle to school,” said Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari. “Whether students take the bus, walk, ride a bicycle or are driven to school by their parents, there are safety rules everyone must follow.”
The Surf City Police Department shared information via its Facebook page on when it’s legal and not legal to pass a school bus. According to the post, all traffic in both directions on two- and four-lane roadways without medians must stop for stopped buses. Only traffic following a bus making stops on four-lane highways divided by a median are required to stop, while traffic in the other direction is permitted to keep driving.
Ocean County Freeholder Director John P. Kelly noted that drivers are required by law to stop at least 25 feet from a school bus that has stopped with its flashing red lights. Bus drivers can report motorists who do not stop by providing the offending driver’s license plate number, which will result in a summons.
When approaching an intersection, pedestrian crossing or school zone, or even when backing out of the driveway, motorists should be ready to stop by covering the brake in case children are crossing, Vicari said.
“Take a hard look. Look, and then look again, for the child hidden by parked cars, shrubbery or high grass, trees or poles,” he stated. “Even mailboxes can obscure a child, if only for a moment.”
Vicari also advised students to carefully check for moving traffic by looking both ways when exiting the school bus.
“Never trust a vehicle to stop just because the bus is flashing its red warning lights,” he advised.
Students and motorists also need to be aware of their surroundings and put their cell phones away while traveling, added Kelly, who is also director of the county law and public safety departments. He noted that students walking to school should always follow the same course and avoid shortcuts. He suggested parents walk with their kids to school at least once so they know the route and how long it takes to get to and from school.
Children riding their bikes to school are required by New Jersey law to wear an approved safety helmet if they are younger than 17.