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AAA urges drivers to stay alert & distraction-free as students return to school


Tue, Aug 27th 2019 03:30 pm

‘School’s Open – Drive Carefully’ campaign aims to keep students safe

By AAA of Western and Central New York

AAA Western and Central New York has kicked off its annual “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” campaign as back-to-school season gets underway. AAA’s campaign was launched nationally in 1946 to help reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities. It is now in its 74th year. AAA clubs across the country continue to promote the campaign each fall to remind motorists to watch out for children as they travel to and from school.

The longstanding “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” campaign garners support from community leaders. A press conference was held in Buffalo on Tuesday.

“The school year is about to start, which includes a high volume of traffic, including school buses and inexperienced drivers,” said New York State Trooper James O’Callaghan, Troop A public information officer. “Troopers will be out in force looking for vehicles who put children’s lives in danger by passing school buses. Drive safely and anticipate heavy traffic for the first half of September.”

Sheriff Timothy B. Howard said, “I am urging drivers to prepare themselves now for the return of school buses to the area roadways and to have patience when driving. The cost of passing a stopped school bus is high, not only to the driver’s pocket, but the cost of a young life. If you see a school bus, you should be prepared to stop at any time, and you should expect children walking around the vehicle. A few extra minutes and some extra time can save a young life.”

“As we approach the beginning of the school year, it is important to follow the rules of the road,” Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns said. “Drivers need to be vigilant about pedestrian safety before, during and after school hours.”

Amherst Police Capt. Kevin Brown reminded motorists to avoid distractions: “Everyone can do their part and help out by not being distracted while behind the wheel. Focus on the road and your surroundings and eliminate distractions in your car.”

The safety of children walking or biking to and from school is an extremely important message, as, in the last decade, more than 25% of child pedestrian fatalities occurred after school, between 3-7 p.m. New York state averages nearly 300 pedestrian fatalities annually.

“Disturbingly, a pedestrian is killed every two hours in the United States, on average, according to NHTSA,” AAA WCNY President and CEO Tony Spada said. “Soon, millions of school-aged children will be heading back to school eager to learn. It’s the responsibility of every adult to protect these precious students.”

As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 880,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.

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