1st day of school safe driving reminders
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[August 18, 2011]
You've seen them before, even though
it's been a while -- standing around buildings, running across
streets, streaming out of buses. Students will be arriving at the
schools in the next few days, and it will make driving through your
town a little different.
Here are a few guidelines to remember, and yes, they are the same
ones we hear and read every year at this time, but there are lives
at stake. When referring to a school day, Illinois Rules of the Road
notes the hours of 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., the hours of the day when
students are most likely to be present.
It is illegal to
pass a school bus while the stop arm is extended and the red
lights are flashing. Failure to stop can result in suspension of
your driver's license or vehicle registration, and a $150 fine.
A driver must stop
behind, or in the opposite lane facing the bus, when the red
lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended -- because
students are loading or unloading. Your signal to move is when
the red lights stop flashing and the signal arm folds against
the bus. Proceed slowly.
The speed limit in
a school zone is 20 mph. If your speedometer is undependable,
reduce speed to err on the side of caution.
Drivers must stop
and yield at pedestrian crosswalks and at school crosswalks on
school days when children are present. The consideration must be
extended to children and adults.
Drivers must not use
cellphones while passing through a school zone. Answer it later,
call them back, but resist the urge to drive one-handed, to take
your eyes off the road or to go off into another galaxy of
conversation while you are driving.
Before you turn a
corner near a school, check for students who may be on the
sidewalk or along the road. Sometimes the shortest path home
leads to straying from the designated walkway.
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If you are impatient with slowing down and making frequent stops,
find another route to your destination. Never assume children are
aware of your presence or that they know what to do. Give them time
to cross the street, pick up a dropped paper or adjust their book
Crosswalks we have ignored for three months must be watched.
Buses that spent the summer lined up in neat rows will be sharing
the roadway. Traffic will be heavier, and especially at those times
when the school day begins and ends. It is time to really pay
[By MARLA BLAIR]