RISP asks motorists to be extra vigilant as children head back to school

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Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Rhode Island Department of Public Safety, notes that many children are headed back to school, so motorists need to be extra vigilant.

“With thousands of children heading back to school, there will be a dramatic increase in the number of pedestrians and bicycles on the roads, especially near schools and bus stops,” Colonel Assumpico said. “We strongly encourage all motorists to use extra caution while driving in residential areas and school zones to help keep every student in Rhode Island safe.”

A study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 301 school-aged children nationwide were killed heading to and from school between 2006 and 2015. One third of those victims were pedestrians. The study also found that school-aged pedestrians were more likely to be killed between 6 and 8 a.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. than any other time of the day.

NHTSA also reported nearly 6,000 pedestrian traffic fatalities in 2016, which was an increase of nine percent from the year before. That’s an average of one pedestrian fatality every 90 minutes. Of the 5,987 victims, 245 of them (four percent) were children.

Colonel Assumpico notes that four pedestrians have died in traffic crashes here in Rhode Island so far this year, down from 15 pedestrian fatalities in 2017. In addition, 29 pedestrians and 7 bicyclists suffered serious injuries as a result of motor vehicle crashes.

“The start of a new school year is a perfect time for parents and children to sit down and review the rules of the road – including pedestrian, bicycle and school bus safety,” Colonel Assumpico said. “Let’s all work together to get this school year off to a good start.”

Back-to-School Safety Reminders for Motorists:

Obey all traffic laws and speed limits, especially in residential areas and school zones. Come to a complete stop at stop signs, checking for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks.

Beware of children darting across the street and out from between parked cars.

Stop for school buses loading or unloading children. State law requires motorists on both sides of the road to stop for buses that are stopped with their red lights activated.

Be alert. Children are unpredictable and may ignore hazards that could put them at risk. Older children may be distracted by loud music, or texting, talking or surfing the web on their phones and not pay attention to possible hazards.

Back-to-School Safety Tips for Parents and Children

Review traffic, school and personal safety guidelines with children, especially those going off to school for the first time.

Remind children to use sidewalks and crosswalks whenever possible, and to look both ways before crossing the street.

Instruct students as to how to safely get on and off school buses, especially if they must cross the street to get to the bus.

Have children wear helmets if taking a bicycle, scooter or skateboard to school.

Remind children not to talk to strangers or get into the cars of anyone they don’t know.

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