School’s Open, Drive Carefully – a Life Saving Message for 75 Years

School’s Open, Drive Carefully – a Life Saving Message for 75 Years

AAA Western and Central New York, Senator Timothy Kennedy, New York State Police Partner Raise Awareness
Elizabeth Carey
school's open drive carefully photo

AAA Western and Central New York, along with law enforcement and state leaders, kicks off the annual “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” campaign as back-to-school season gets underway amid the ongoing pandemic. This year, drivers must use extra caution as most schools return to in person instruction after a year of various virtual models. With school buses back in action, commuters should give themselves extra time and be prepared for bus traffic. Motorists should also use caution amidst 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; 75 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 Senator Timothy Kennedy, chair of the New York Committee on Transportation, along with the New York State Police for a virtual press conference, held on Wednesday, September 1.

AAA WCNY President Tony Spada emphasized the need to show extra caution when driving as schools reopen since vacation-minded children are apt to be less careful.  “AAA’s annual ‘School’s Open—Drive Carefully’ campaign alerts motorists to the risks to school-age children from motor vehicle crashes—the leading cause of death for children from five to fourteen years old,” he said. “Motorists should be particularly alert for children darting out between parked cars on busy streets.”

“55 million families are sending children back to school across the U.S. If you’re putting a key into the ignition, make sure you’ve eliminated distractions. Distracted driving kills and it’s at an all-time high,” said New York State Senator Timothy Kennedy. “We need to make sure drivers are not distracted as our students head back to school. Be alert and aware near school buses and in neighborhoods where children walk or ride bicycles to school.”

“This is an important and successful campaign. Not only do we have cars passing buses on the left, we have cars passing on the right. 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,” said Trooper James O’Callaghan, PIO, New York State Police, Troop A, who also noted that passing a school bus carries a $250 to $1,000 dollar fine.

AAA reminds drivers to slow down, avoid distractions by putting cell phones away, and to check mirrors before moving. Parents should also teach children the rules of traffic safety. 

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