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Letter from the Chief-Back to School Safety

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dear Neighbors,

Today, our kids in grades K-12 are heading back to school. And whether you drive your kids, they board a school bus, walk, bike, or are picked up by friends; this is a good time to think about ways to make their morning and afternoon commutes safer. Despite the fact that in 2012 there were 5 incidents involving school bus crashes in Huntington, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, riding a bus to and from school is 13 times safer than riding in passenger vehicles and 10 times safer than walking or biking.

Here are some tips to remind your kids about when riding their school buses:
.Wait until the bus has come to a complete stop and the doors have opened before stepping into the road.
.Once on the bus, stay seated until you have reached your destination. Buckle your seatbelt if possible.
.Never put head, arms, or hands out the windows.
.If, when you get off the bus, you need to cross the street, walk at least 10 feet ahead of the bus along the side of the road so that the driver can see you to signal whether it is safe to cross. NEVER cross the street behind the bus.

For those of you who have children who walk or bike to school remind them of these tips:
.They should take the same route every day to and from school and never take any shortcuts.
.They should not speak to anyone in a car, and should not accept any offer of a ride the rest of the way.
.If your child is a biker, make sure he or she is wearing a helmet and knows the rules of road for bikers.
.Children are encouraged to wear brightly colored jackets or clothing, especially since they may be on the road in the early morning or later afternoon hours when it is dark.

For some parents, this new school year will be the first time their teenage driver is driving to school, and sometimes, they are taking their friends or younger siblings with them. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teenagers. According to AAA, although teen drivers are only 7% of licensed drivers, they account for 20% of fatal crashes. Here are some tips to share with your new teen driver:
.Obey the speed limits. Going too fast gives you less time to stop or react. Excess speed is one of the main causes of teenage accidents.
.If you are going to have friends or siblings in the car, don't let conversations, radio changing, eating breakfast, putting on makeup, or anything else distract you from paying attention to the road.
.Try to get to school five to ten minutes early, and leave five minutes late to avoid the mad dash into and out of the parking lot. Lots of accidents happen when people are rushing around.
.Most importantly, DO NOT TEXT WHILE DRIVING! In fact, it's best to leave your cell phone in your backpack while you drive so you won't be tempted to check it as often.

For the rest of us, this is the time of year when we need to leave a little extra time when we head for work in the morning. School buses will be taking kids to and from their schools throughout the day, and will make frequent stops. In New York State it is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children and the law also states that drivers on BOTH sides of the street must stop when a school bus has stopped and is flashing red lights and displaying the extended stop sign. Here are some other tips to keep in mind about sharing the road with school buses and children:
.Be on the lookout for school zone signals and ALWAYS obey the speed limits.
.Watch for crossing guards and always obey their signals.
.School buses always stop for railroad crossings, so be prepared to stop behind them.
.In school zones, you must stop to yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the road within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk.
.NEVER pass a school bus to the right; it's illegal and could have tragic consequences

Be safe out there!
Dan McConnell
Chief of the Halesite Fire Department




The Chief is always available to answer any Halesite FD and saftey here.



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