Police: Drive Carefully as Students Head Back to School This Week

AAA school's openThe first day of school for all Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District is Wednesday and Hamilton police want to remind drivers to be alert for students headed to and from school – whether they are walking, riding their bicycle, driving or riding the school bus.

Some students – including sixth graders at Miles River Middle School and ninth graders at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School – go back to school on Tuesday, Aug. 30. Most  HWRSD students return on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

While mornings can be busy, drivers are reminded that the afternoon hours are the most dangerous. During the last decade, nearly one in four child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. And as the school years progresses, the afternoons get shorter and shorter as the sunset time gets earlier and earlier.

Hamilton Police Lt. Scott Janes said some of the safety tips and reminders from AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully awareness campaign are important to remember.

  • Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 miles per hour is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
  • Come to a complete stop. Research shows that more than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop, checking carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.
  • Eliminate distractions. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing. And children can be quick, crossing the road unexpectedly or emerging suddenly between two parked cars. Reduce risk by not using your cell phone or eating while driving, for example.
  • Reverse responsibly. Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, in the driveway and around your vehicle before slowly backing up. Teach your children to never play in, under or around vehicles.
  • Watch for bicycles. Children on bikes are often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that he or she wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride. Find videos, expert advice and safety tips online.
  • Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3-7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips online.
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