School’s Open! Remember to Drive Carefully!

Earlier today, Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol, Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri, Patti Artessa, Regional Director for AAA Northeast, joined Faculty, Staff, and Students from Watson Williams Elementary School in the City of Utica.

“AAA’s School’s Open-Drive Carefully campaign dates back to 1946, but with traffic fatalities on the rise, this message is critical,” said Patti Artessa, Regional Director, Public, and Government Affairs at AAA Northeast.

“Children have returned to schools across the state. It is especially important that all drivers are alert, as many children walk or bike to school. Please slow down, allow yourself more time to get to your destination, stop for school buses when red lights are flashing, stay off your phone and other devices, yield for pedestrians in crosswalks, obey crossing guards and exercise patience,” said Sheriff Maciol. “Police departments will have increased patrols on traffic safety and conducting enforcement, when necessary, especially in school zones.”

Children tend to be at greater risk during the back-to-school period because they are thinking more about seeing old friends, new teachers, and their new school day rather than watching for traffic.

AAA’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index survey shows concerning driving behaviors that put pedestrians and cyclists at risk, especially children. When asked about their personal driving behaviors within 30 days prior to the survey:

  • 35% reported driving 10mph or faster on residential streets.
  • 37% of respondents reported driving while talking or reading content on a hand-held cell phone while driving, and about a quarter admitted to driving while typing or sending a text/email on a hand-held cell phone at least once in the past 30 days.

Participating Oneida County School Districts also have busses equipped with Vera Mobility Camera Systems. Verra Mobility’s CrossingGuard™ school bus stop-arm enforcement solution provides state-of-the-art stop-arm safety technology to effectively capture stop-arm events. When the stop arm is deployed, the camera automatically detects vehicles that pass the stopped bus within the enforcement zone. When an event occurs, the cameras record video of the vehicle and capture event images including the vehicle, its license plate, and the extended stop-arm. The violation video and license plate images are then reviewed by the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office for approval prior to a warning or citation being issued, if a citation is issued it will originate from the state of Arizona.

Please join us as we remind drivers, School’s Open, Drive Carefully, and remember to always stop for any school bus that has stopped with its red lights flashing.