Dear Car Coach: School is back in session and there are so many little kids running around the streets. The other day this bad driver, to say it nicely, was driving too quickly through a school zone. The crossing guard was so angry. Thank God no children were injured. Can you please remind your readers of the laws and rules? I'd hate to see any children killed due to someone being in a rush.
- S.S., Kenmore
Dear S.S.: Every fall, 55 million children across the United States head back to school. With 13 percent of those children typically walking or biking to their classes, the American Automobile Association and police warn drivers to be especially vigilant for pedestrians before and after school hours. The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous. Over the last decade, nearly one-third of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 and 7 p.m.
School Bus Routes: Remember, yellow lights mean to slow down. NEVER go through a red light.
Slow down: Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A person struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to someone struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
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
Stay Focused: Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing. And children can be quick, crossing the road unexpectedly or emerging suddenly between two parked cars.
Bicycles: Younger children on bikes are often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist. If your child rides a bicycle to school, you should require that he or she wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride. Children under 14 must wear a helmet.
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and more than 25 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 to 7 p.m.
Here is the description of the punishment for someone convicted of a violation for passing a stopped school bus ((thanks to the state police for supplying this information).
First conviction: A fine of not less than $250 nor more than $400 or imprisonment for not more than 30 days or both such fine and imprisonment.
Second conviction (both committed within a period of three years): A fine of not less than $600 nor more than $750 or imprisonment for not more than 180 days or both such fine and imprisonment.
Dear Car Coach: I'm pregnant with my first child, I'm about 5 months and the seat belt is getting uncomfortable. My doctor didn't have any advice other than wear the seat belt. Am I missing something?
- L.W., Clarence Center
Dear L.W.: I agree that wearing a seat belt is the smartest choice. When I was pregnant with each of my children, I was always concerned with the closeness of my belly to the steering wheel. It wasn't pleasant to wear a seat belt, but I always wore one - and that's important. In addition, you have to think about airbags and protecting your unborn child.
The proper way to wear a seat belt when pregnant is no different than any other time. Make sure that the lap belt is low and tight across your hips - not across your stomach. The shoulder belt should be across the middle of your chest and away from your neck. Many cars allow you to adjust the height of the belt at the car's "B" pillar (the middle post, over your shoulder).
Airbags are proven to save lives. They only work if you are wearing seat belts properly, and if you are seated properly. Be sure to sit up straight and keep at least 12 inches of clearance between the front airbags and your belly. Don't use pillows or other cushions to change your seating position. Use the adjustments that are built into the vehicle.
Another issue when you are pregnant is the difficulty of getting in and out of pickup trucks and high vehicles. If you don't have alternative automobile choices, consider a step stool but be careful not to fall. If your doctor tells you not to drive, follow that advice. Don't drive!