NYSDOT Urges Safe Travel For Back To School

Motorists, Pedestrians and Bicyclists Should Use Caution

ALBANY, NY (09/03/2013)(readMedia)-- As New York families prepare for the start of school, New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Commissioner Joan McDonald today urged motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists to travel with care and follow the rules of the road.

"It is important for all travelers to be attentive and aware of increased traffic on our roadways as schools prepare to open this week," Commissioner McDonald said. "Drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists have a responsibility to share the road, ensuring that we all reach our destinations safely."

Under New York State law, it is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload students. School buses use yellow flashing lights to alert motorists that they are preparing to stop to let children on or off. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signals to motorists that a school bus is stopped and children are entering or exiting the bus. Traffic is required to stop in both directions on undivided highways when students are entering or exiting a school bus.

The area 10 feet around a school bus is where children are in the most danger of being struck by a passing vehicle. Drivers should stop their cars far enough from a school bus to give students the space necessary to safely enter and exit the bus.

All drivers need to recognize the special needs of pedestrians, especially children. Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, residential areas, playgrounds and parks. Motorists should always be cautious and stop when directed to do so by a school patrol sign, school patrol officer or crossing guard.

Pedestrians should use sidewalks when available, and if not available, should always walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic. When crossing the road, pedestrians should use crosswalks and cross only at corners, not mid-block where they are less visible to motorists. Under New York State law, drivers are required to yield the right of way to pedestrians crossing within a crosswalk.

At signalized intersections, pedestrians should utilize push buttons when available to help them safely cross the street. When activated, a pedestrian push button will actuate the pedestrian crossing phase at the signalized intersection, allowing a pedestrian enough time to safely cross a roadway. The push buttons will also activate available pedestrian crossing countdown timers and audible signal crossings to help safely guide pedestrians.

On most roadways, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as other roadway users and often share the same lane. Drivers should take extra precautions in school zones and neighborhood areas where children may be riding bicycles.

For real-time travel information, call 511 or visit www.511NY.org. 511NY is New York State's official traffic and travel information source. The 511NY site and mobile app offer free, 24/7, statewide, real-time traffic and transit information for all of New York State. It also offers a transit trip planner, camera views, as well as weather alerts and forecasts. New features available at the site – www.511ny.org – include additional mobile app features, border crossing times, new notifications on the home page, and an interface that is easy to navigate.

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