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Supervisor Venditto: School is Open — Drive Safely

With the new school year fast approaching, Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto issued his annual reminder to drivers to be extra cautious.

“The slogan ‘School is Open – Drive Safely’ has been around for a while, but it bears repeating as we embark upon the start of a new school year,” Venditto stated. “Despite parental lectures on safety, children sometimes demonstrate youthful misjudgment such as walking or riding against traffic lights and signs or in undesignated areas, zig-zagging on bicycles or skateboards, and walking or riding out from between parked cars. That means we, as drivers, must be constantly on the alert. As someone who spends a lot of time on the road, I am especially cautious on neighborhood streets. I am inclined to decrease my speed below the posted limit and give extra wide clearance to children walking, riding or playing in the street.

“Another thing motorists should be alert to is signs. Many school crossing signs that were removed or turned up for the summer are in place again, so drivers will find themselves having to stop at unaccustomed locations. Signs or traffic lights may also have been installed at new locations, so we must all be particularly watchful.”

The supervisor noted that an important aspect for drivers is to be aware of laws regarding school buses. “Every day in New York State, thousands of vehicles illegally pass school buses,” Venditto stated. “The New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, Section 1174, requires that all drivers stop their vehicle, in either direction, on any public or private roadway when approaching a stopped school bus that has its flashing signals and stop arm in operation. The law pertains to all roadways, including the divided highways, driveways located on the grounds of a school and even the center turning lane of undivided highways or streets. A driver should not proceed until the school bus resumes motion or until the bus driver or a police officer gives the go-ahead to proceed.

“Children expect vehicles to stop for them at the school bus stop,” the supervisor said. “It is incumbent upon us, as motorists, to obey the law. Next time you see a stopped school bus, please, stop your vehicle. Not doing so is not only illegal, but is a mistake children can’t afford for you to make.”

Venditto went on to say that parents should also remind children of their role in travel safety. “While crossing guards are posted at the busiest intersections, youngsters should be taught to look both ways before crossing any intersection and to cross only at the corner, unless there is a designated crossing elsewhere on the block. Youngsters should also be admonished to pay attention to where they are walking and not get distracted by talking on their cell phone or texting. Reflective clothing is a good idea for children who walk or ride home late in the day, particularly when daylight hours are shorter. All children should be admonished not to walk or ride home alone. The old adage that there is safety in numbers is very true.”

The supervisor noted that parents whose children walk to school might consider accompanying their younger children along the route they take to school before school opens. By doing this, parents can point out potential danger spots to the youngsters and give them instructions on how to handle or navigate these areas.  

“No one likes to think about a child being hurt,” Venditto stated. “Let’s make this school year one of the safest by being especially vigilant about our responsibilities as drivers and by teaching our youngsters the important lessons that will help ensure their safety en route to school and at home.”