When my kids were young and I was Chairperson of the PTA Health and Safety committee at Little Tor Elementary School, one of my jobs was to stress the importance of bus and pedestrian safety for both children and adults.
Twenty plus years later, and as County Executive, I’m still continuing this effort.
Schools across Rockland just opened and it’s a good time to review basic safety information for both young people and adults to keep them safe on local roadways.
The first lesson is obvious but it is one that bears repeating time and time again – drivers must stop behind a stopped school bus and wait until the bus’s red light is off before going. Always watch for children.
Our local police departments do frequent spot checks to make sure this law is being enforced. Don’t risk getting a ticket which comes with five points in penalties and a stiff fine. Even worse, you could injure or kill a child getting on or off a school bus.
The second issue is harder to teach and enforce. It involves training both pedestrians and drivers to be more aware of each other.
Our Department of Health actually started a program over the summer developed by the state called See! Be Seen! which focuses on pedestrian safety, driver awareness education and enforcement campaign.
The program focuses on Route 59 and Route 45 in the Ramapo area, which was identified by the state has having both a lot of traffic and an inordinate number of crashes.
State data shows that the average daily traffic on Route 45 is now 17,000 vehicles every day and an average of 39,000 vehicles on Route 59.
The two routes combined had over 1,100 crashes from 2012 to 2015.
Car crashes aren’t the only problem. All too often pedestrians are struck by cars – sometimes with fatal results.
Just last month a young woman crossing Route 59 in Monsey was hit by a car and killed. State records show that nine pedestrians were killed on roads in Rockland between 2011 to 2013.
What a tragic loss of life. And so preventable too.
Our Department of Health has been working with the Ramapo police to make sure that laws are enforced. But we also have to make pedestrians aware that their actions contribute to their safety as well.
We are putting posters in buses, on store windows and at gathering places with tips for how pedestrians and drivers can make the roads safer.
- Cross at intersections and marked crosswalks
- Obey signals
- Wear visible clothing during nighttime travel
- Pay attention! Don’t text while crossing
- Obey the speed limit
- Stop for pedestrians at crosswalks and intersections
- Pay attention! Don’t text while driving
- Expect pedestrians
Remember, we share the roads. Let’s be careful.