LIMA — School started Wednesday for students in Lima schools, and because of that motorists are urged to be on the lookout for the little ones who might not see you.
A news conference was held Wednesday at West Middle School to re-launch the “School’s Open, Drive Carefully” campaign.
Banners will be placed on buses at the Big R store, Lima AAA office and Kewpee on Bellefontaine Avenue in Lima to help remind motorists to slow down and pay attention around school zones.
“Pedestrian fatalities in Ohio remain high. We talked with ODOT and learned that last year, 132 pedestrians died after being struck by a motor vehicle. That’s a five percent higher rate than the national average over the past five years. Among those killed were 13 young pedestrians ages 18 and younger — not just numbers, those are our kids,” said Cindy Nelson, Lima AAA store manager.
“What’s really scary is that young pedestrian crashes spike about 3 p.m. as the kids are excitedly leaving school to head home,” Nelson added.
As the days get shorter, many school children will head to school when it’s still relatively dark.
“We need to encourage people to slow down, take their time and please avoid the distractions of the phone while kids are crossing streets and kids are at bus stops. We’re busing about 400 more kids this year, so we have a lot more kids at bus stops on corners,” said Jill Ackerman, Lima schools superintendent.
Law enforcement also urges motorists to be on the lookout for children going to or coming from school.
“Slow down. Don’t text and drive. There is no appointment, no schedule, there is no phone call, no text message that’s more important than a child’s life. If you are worried about getting to your appointment on time, give yourself an extra 15 minutes. I don’t know any child that’s not worth 15 more minutes of our time,” said Kevin Martin, Lima police chief.
Lima Mayor David Berger reiterated the need to pay more attention.
“We take it for granted that school opens, and as a result, we just go on about our business. I think today is a call to folks to be deliberate, to be aware. This isn’t up to the children to keep them safe, it’s up to us as drivers. As adults there is no second-guessing who is responsible here. It’s up to us as adults to make certain that kids and pedestrians are in fact safe as they go about their business,” said Berger.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409