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Go Ask Mom

Back to School: Slow down, watch for kids, be safe in school zones

Posted August 28
Updated August 29

Monday is the first day for traditional calendar schools, which means pretty much every single school in the region will be in session starting Monday.

Back when year-round schools started up, I reminded everybody about school bus stop laws. Let's all review those now that even more buses are on the road.

Let's also remember that kids don't just take the bus to get to school. Some walk along roads with no sidewalks (including my own first grader - with me by her side, of course). Some are crossing streets. Some new drivers are on their way to local high schools.

Everybody: Please put your phones down and pay attention, especially in areas around schools. Don't be the driver who laid on her horn and tried to pull out around another car that had stopped so my daughter and I could cross the street on a CROSSWALK THAT WAS DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF A LARGE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AS SCHOOL LET OUT.

Yes - I'm yelling. Because more than a year later, that experience still drives me absolutely nuts. I have so many words I'd like to share with that woman beyond the G-rated "What the what!?!?" I screamed at her as she drove by, avoiding any chance of eye contact with me.

I understand that it may take you an extra minute to get to work because you have to wait for a child to cross the street. When you're running late, I totally get it. That extra lost minute is a bummer.

But, here's the alternative: You may plow down a child as she's trying to get to school. And, sadly, we've seen plenty of those news stories in recent years.

If you need even more incentive to obey the laws other than, you know, not seriously injuring or killing a child, here are the penalties in North Carolina for failing to comply with school zone and school bus safety rules.

  • A $500 penalty for motorists who are caught passing a stopped school bus, with the possibility of license revocation.
  • Five points on motorists’ driver’s license and eight points for commercial vehicles for passing a stopped school bus.
  • A $250 penalty for speeding in a school zone.

The town of Cary shared those details in a press release about how police there will boost patrols in school zones from Monday through Sept. 9. In addition to ensuring that traffic laws are obeyed, patrols could also include drivers’ license checks and strict enforcement of parking rules. So, parents dropping off your kids, don't block traffic and driveways when you park your car to walk your kid into school even if it's just going to take a "couple of minutes."

Don't get me wrong: Everybody can do better here. Let's all make a pact to do it. We're talking about kids and their safety, after all.

Sarah, Go Ask Mom's editor, is a mom of two.

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