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Local leaders joined with AAA and members of law enforcement to promote back-to-school safety. (AAA photo)
Local leaders joined with AAA and members of law enforcement to promote back-to-school safety. (AAA photo)

School's open, drive carefully - a lifesaving message for 76 years


Tue, Aug 30th 2022 06:05 pm

AAA, Kennedy, NYS Police, Erie County sheriff, Buffalo PD, Amherst PD partner on safety

Submitted by AAA of Western and Central New York

AAA Western and Central New York, along with law enforcement and state leaders, kicked off the annual “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” campaign as back-to-school season gets underway. With school buses back in action, commuters should give themselves extra time and be prepared for bus traffic. With many school districts facing bus driver shortages, all drivers are encouraged to be patient and use extra caution. Motorists should also be cognizant of less-experienced student drivers returning to high school and college.

AAA’s “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” campaign was launched nationally in 1946 to help reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities. 76 years later, AAA clubs across the country continue to promote the campaign annually to remind motorists to watch out for children as they travel to and from school.

To raise awareness of this important issue, AAA teamed up with Sen. Timothy Kennedy, chair of the New York Committee on Transportation, along with the New York State Police PIO James O’Callaghan, Erie County Sheriff John Garcia, Buffalo Police Capt. Tommy Champion and Amherst Police Capt. Charles Persons for a press conference, held at AAA headquarters in Williamsville on Tuesday.

"More than 50 million students across the country are expected to head back to school in the coming weeks, and as they do, it's critically important for drivers to be alert and stay aware of increased foot traffic, school buses returning to neighborhoods, and staggered drop off and pick up schedules," Kennedy said. "If you're putting a key into the ignition of a car, it's imperative that you eliminate distractions, watch for bicyclists and, most importantly, slow down. We're counting on each and every New Yorker to help keep our kids safe."

O’Callaghan said, “This is an important and successful campaign. Unfortunately, we see cars passing school buses. You’re looking at a 5-point ticket – that is steep – but the real deterrent should be the fact that you can take a life. We want to make sure your children are as safe as they can be when they get on and off that bus every single day.”

Garcia said, “Please be patient, give yourself extra time in the morning and the afternoon. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office will have extra patrols during school hours to protect our kids. Passing a school bus carries a $250 to $1,000 fine.”

“Parents are encouraged to be good role models for their teen drivers and put the phones down behind the wheel,” said Elizabeth Carey, director of public relations at AAA Western and Central New York. “AAA reminds drivers to slow down, avoid distractions by putting cell phones away, and to check mirrors before moving. Parents should also teach children of all ages the rules of traffic safety.”

For more information on traffic safety, visit www.AAA.com/TrafficSafety.

As upstate New York’s largest member services organization, AAA Western and Central New York provides more than 887,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1900, AAA has been a leading advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. Visit AAA at www.AAA.com.

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