2003-09-26 / Community

Safety Campaign Protects Children’s Lives

Safety Campaign Protects Children’s Lives

Mayor Bloomberg and AAA are gearing up for another "School’s Open – Drive Carefully" program to help safeguard young children’s lives as they return to school.

For the fifty-eighth year, elected officials and other public authorities are joining with AAA in this public awareness campaign. Recognized for saving lives and preventing injuries, the "School’s Open – Drive Carefully" campaign alerts motorists to be extra careful as students return to school.

"As the new school year begins, it is more important than ever to drive responsibly and to stay alert for children," said Mayor Bloomberg. The mayor added that this campaign "plays a vital role in keeping children throughout New York State safe and ensures that they can enjoy this exciting time of year."

Car crashes continue as one of the leading causes of death and injury for school age children. The campaign is conducted nationally to help reduce this tragic toll.

The Automobile Club of New York, the local AAA affiliate, will distribute some 5,000 posters emblazoned with the "School’s Open" legend to police and other public authorities for use at busy intersections and school crossings. The club is also distributing 15,000 "School’s Open" bumper stickers for display on trucks, buses, official vehicles, school buses and passenger cars.

"Safety usually isn’t the primary concern of young people, especially at the beginning of the school year when they are renewing friendships and, once again, getting accustomed to the routine of going to school," said Mark Kulewicz, the Club’s Director of Traffic Engineering and Safety Services. "It’s the responsibility of all motorists to do what they can to ensure the safety of our precious young people," said Kulewicz.

Again this year, as part of the "School’s Open" campaign, the Automobile Club of New York is offering a tip sheet for parents to review with their children on choosing the safest route to school, plus important safety rules. Available in Spanish and English, it advises parents to show their children which route to take and why. The route should be planned with ten safety rules in mind, including:

Walk on sidewalks: watch out for cars pulling into, and backing out, of driveways.

Cross only at corners: avoid the dangerous practice of jaywalking.

Watch for turning cars: children sometimes forget to look and unintentionally walk into the side of a turning vehicle.

Avoid crossing between parked cars: it’s almost impossible for drivers to see youngsters who enter the roadway from between parked cars.

After reading these and other suggestions, parents are asked to sign and return to teachers a slip at the bottom of the sheet acknowledging that they have shown their children the best route to school and have reviewed the tips.

"Best Route to School" is available to parents of elementary school students through their local schools during the month of September. It is also available by sending a self-addressed, stamped business-size envelope to BRTS, Automobile Club of New York, P.O. Box 975, Garden City, NY 11530. The Club distributes tens of thousands of copies of the tip sheet annually as part of its ongoing program to promote traffic safety.

State officials endorsing the campaign this year include Governor George E. Pataki, Commissioner of Motor Vehicles Raymond P. Martinez, Acting Superintendent of the New York State Police Wayne E. Bennett, and New York State Commissioner of Education Richard P. Mills.

The Automobile Club of New York provides automotive, travel and financial services to more than 1.2 million members in New York City and Suffolk, Nassau, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, Ulster, and Sullivan Counties.

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