The Rockford Police Department and Rockford Public Schools want to remind drivers to watch for students and buses as students head back to school next week. The first day for RPS 205 is Monday, Aug. 25. "It is easy to get preoccupied when you are driving," said RPS 205 Superintendent Ehren Jarrett. "But the lives of our schoolchildren depend on drivers paying attention, watching out for school buses and slowing down in school zones. These are critical lessons." "The safety of our citizens, especially our children, is of paramount importance," said Rockford Police Chief Chet Epperson. "The Rockford Police Department will aggressively enforce school zones so no tragedies occur."
Some helpful tips for students, parents and drivers:
- Be mindful of driving in designated school zones. Cell phone use – even a hands-free device – is illegal when driving. A citation comes with a $75 (for first offense) ticket for breaking the law. A citation for speeding in a Rockford school zone comes with a minimum $150 ticket. Passing of a school bus with the stop arm out and the stop lights activated is illegal which will result in a 3 month suspension of your driver's license and a $150 fine.
- Be aware of buses. They make frequent stops for students and also stop at all railroad crossings.
- When crossing the street, stop and look left, right and then left again. Do the same at driveways and alleys. Remind children to look for traffic as they're exiting the bus. While it's illegal to drive through the stop sign/stop arm of a bus, it can happen.
- If you meet your child at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where he or she will be dropped off, not across the street. Children can be excited to see you after school and forget the safety rules before crossing the street. If you drive your child to the bus stop, park on the side of the street the bus picks up, so students don't have to cross the street to get to the bus.
- Never reach under the school bus to get anything that has rolled or fallen beneath it. The bus driver may be sitting too high to see a student.
- Wait for a signal from the bus driver before crossing the street. Walk at least 10 feet away from the front of the bus so the driver can see you.
Safe driving tips from AAA:
- Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
- Eliminate distractions. Children often cross the road unexpectedly and may emerge suddenly between two parked cars. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
- Reverse responsibly. Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, driveway and around your vehicle before slowly backing up. Teach your children to never play in, under or around vehicles—even those that are parked.
- Come to a complete stop. Research shows that more than one third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop, checking carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.
For more information, please contact Rockford Police Public Information Officer Asst. Deputy Chief Patrick Hoey: 815-987-5822 or firstname.lastname@example.org.