NEW BRITAIN, Conn. (CBS Connecticut) – With hundreds of thousands of Connecticut school children returning to classes, drivers are being urged to use caution, particularly in school zones.

At New Britain’s Smith Elementary School on Monday, police, education officials and traffic safety advocates reminded drivers about the rules of the road, and how to help fellow students as 15 members of the AAA School Safety patrol received their sashes for the year.

They offered this advice to drivers:

  1. Slow Down. Whether in a school zone or residential neighborhood, motorists should keep their speed low and be prepared to stop quickly for increased vehicle or pedestrian traffic.
  2. Obey Traffic Signs. Obeying traffic signs is something all motorists should do no matter where they drive. Unfortunately, many motorists violate stop signs in school zones and residential neighborhoods-many failing to come to a complete stop, rolling through a stop sign, or not slowing down at all!
  3. Stay Alert. Motorists should always avoid distractions while driving, but it’s particularly important in school zones and residential neighborhoods. Looking away from the roadway for just two seconds doubles the chance of being involved in a crash. The car is for driving, not multi-tasking.
  4. Scan Between Parked Cars. Children can quickly dart out between parked cars or other objects along the roadway. Motorists should pay close attention not only at intersections, but along any residential roadways where children could be present.
  5. Look for Clues of Children Nearby. Keep an eye out for clues that children are likely nearby such as AAA School Safety Patrol members, crossing guards, bicycles and playgrounds.
  6. Always Stop for School Buses. For 25 million students, the school day begins and/or ends with a trip on a school bus. The greatest risk they face is not riding the bus, but approaching or leaving it. Flashing yellow lights on a school bus indicate it is preparing to stop to load or unload children, and motorists should slow down and prepare to stop. Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped, and children are getting on and off. Motorists are required to stop their vehicles and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
  7. Allot Extra Travel Time. Back to school often means increased congestion and longer commute times. Mornings can be especially stressful. Motorists should allot extra travel time when school is in session to avoid any temptation to speed or disobey traffic laws in an effort to ‘catch up’ after being delayed.
  8. Review Your Travel Route. Motorists can consider modifying their travel route to avoid school zones and residential neighborhoods. A slightly longer route might actually be quicker by avoiding congestion and much lower speed limits in and around school zones.
  9. Use Extra Caution in Bad Weather. Whether in rain, snow, fog or any other inclement weather, motorists should use extra caution. Reduced visibility can make it difficult for motorists to see children and for children to see vehicles. It also can make it difficult to perform quick stops, if needed.
  10. Use Headlights. Turning on the vehicle’s daytime running lights or headlights-even during the day-so children and other drivers can see them more easily. But, don’t forget to turn them off when you reach your destination to maintain your battery life.

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