LIMA — Local organizations have teamed up once again to remind drivers to be cautious on the road as students head back to school.
Standing in front of a school bus in the Lima AAA store parking lot Tuesday morning, representatives from Lima schools, AAA, the Lima Police Department, the Ohio Department of Transportation and the city explained how the partnership among these organizations supports student safety.
“We are encouraging motorists to prevent crashes by taking several precautions, including planning ahead, slowing down, eliminating distraction, coming to a complete stop at stop signs and looking for crossing guards,” said Kimberly Schwind, senior public relations manager for AAA Ohio Auto Club.
In promoting back-to-school safety, AAA has teamed with Cardinal Bus Sales to hang banners on buses parked in locations throughout Lima. The banners read “School’s Open — Drive Carefully,” which is the name of the campaign AAA sponsors at the beginning of each school year. In addition, three Allen County schools are taking advantage of AAA’s School Safety Patrol, which allows student volunteers to assist their classmates at road crossings, carpool areas and bus zones. Schools utilizing this program include Delphos St. John’s, Independence Elementary and Unity Elementary.
“There are always kids who want to be safety patrol officers,” Lima schools Superintendent Jill Ackerman said. “We’re able to train them, and it provides a type of community service for our students.”
Ackerman said Lima schools is unique in that students travel to and from school in several ways, including walking, taking a school bus, using public transit and carpooling.
“We have kids doing everything except coming by plane, boat and train,” Ackerman joked. “There are kids everywhere and in every facet of transportation, so we need to make sure people are aware of that and are paying attention in the mornings and afternoons.”
With Tuesday marking the first day of school for students in the Lima schools, Schwind said traffic congestion in school zones will make it difficult for drivers and children to see each other, which increases the likelihood of collisions.
“Traffic is heavier when school is back in session, so drivers need to give themselves some extra time by leaving earlier,” Schwind said, adding that reducing speed and distractions are as important. She said a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study found a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 20 miles per hour is two-thirds less likely to be killed than a vehicle traveling 30 miles per hour.
“Ten miles per hour could make the difference between life and death.”
Reach John Bush at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @bush_lima.