LIMA — School is back in session, and motorists are urged to use caution when children are present, especially in school zones.
A news conference was held Wednesday at West Middle School to launch the School’s Open, Drive Carefully campaign.
Banners will be placed on buses at four different locations in Lima to remind motorists to slow down and pay attention around school zones.
“We just really want to make people aware that there are increased crashes in the Lima area and it’s specifically around schools so we want to get people used to that fact, make sure that they know that there’s a high risk of that so that they can slow down and be extra cautious when they’re in those areas,” said Cindy Nelson, manager of the Lima AAA office.
Last year the number of pedestrian fatalities soared to 144, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation. That’s nearly 24 percent higher than the five-year average.
“Among those killed last year were actually 13 young pedestrians, all 18 and younger. Every year ODOT says there are about 600 people that are hit by cars. For 72 years AAA has been operating the school safety patrol so we are proud to have representatives in four schools in the Lima area that just have that bright badge on and that they’re out there helping to watch for traffic, helping kids cross the street,” said Nelson.
“We have hundreds of kids within the city of Lima that are bused to school each day and also a lot of kids that walk to school or ride their bikes so the purpose of being out here today is just to really reinforce to drivers the importance of paying attention when you’re out there, try to stay away from the distracted driving, watching for kids at bus stops, watching for kids crossing streets. Right now it’s still fairly light in the morning but it will quickly become dark so everybody just needs to be aware that the buses are rolling and the kids are moving and traffic is a lot heavier, just to be patient,” said Jill Ackerman, superintendent of Lima schools.
“We had an experiment here a few years ago with speed cameras. Of course, the public reaction to that was not good. But the data that we collected conclusively demonstrated that people speed routinely around our schools. Nothing has changed in that,” said David Berger, mayor of Lima.
You can find the School’s Open, Drive Carefully banners at the Big R Store, the Lima AAA store, Kewpee East and at North Jameson Avenue and West North Street, across from Dollar General.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409.