From The Tribune staff reports
MONTGOMERY — With the school year fast approaching, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency reminds parents and motorists that there will be more young people driving, as well as an increase in pedestrian traffic near schools soon.
“The beginning of the school year is an exciting time for many; however, we encourage all motorists to be mindful and aware of school buses and overall safety concerns in school zones,” ALEA’s Secretary Hal Taylor said via a press release. “After a summer of driving without school bus drop-offs and pick-ups, or groups of children walking to pe from school, motorists often forget the challenges that may arise while driving in or near school zones. Preparation and patience are two key principles that, when implemented correctly, help to ensure a safe and successful year foreveryone when traveling to and from your destinations.”
The ALEA spokesman went on to urge parents to communicate with their children about traffic and other safety issues prior to the first day of school. For young drivers — especially for teens who have recently obtained a driver license — this is a particularly important step, Taylor said. He also advised parents of teens who plan to drive themselves to school for the first time to make sure that they review the state’s Graduated Driver License law so that teen drivers and their parents understand the law’s restriction.
ALEA advises the following guidelines to aid young drivers:
• Make trial runs to school and back prior to the first day of school to familiarize the new driver with the best route, and possibly determine at least one alternate route.
• Expect heavier traffic (at least for the first week) and leave home early.
• Obey speed limits and other rules of the road.
• Do not drive while distracted by cell phone, stereo, passengers or anything else that takes your eyes off the road.
• Buckle up no matter how short the trip – and make sure all occupants in the vehicle have
buckled up. • Remember Alabama’s GDL restricts 16-year-old drivers from having more than one nonfamily member in the vehicle when driving.
Tips for all drivers as schools reopen for the year:
• Slow down and be alert, particularly in areas near school zones.
• In a school zone with blinking flashers, stop and yield to pedestrians cross the crosswalk or at an intersection.
• Never pass a vehicle that has stopped for pedestrians.
• Students should only cross a street at a crosswalk or designated intersection once they make eye contact with drivers and are certain the vehicles will stop.
• Watch out for children on bicycles and leave 3 feet between your vehicle and the cyclist when passing them.
• Watch for bikes coming down driveways or from behind vehicles parked on the street.
• Do not load or unload children across the street from the school – unless instructed to do so.
• Be aware of school bus stops and drive cautiously in the area, preparing to stop quickly should a child dart out into the street.
• Consider working with other parents to designate an adult to supervise children