Drivers urged to on alert for schoolchildren

DOVER — It’s that time of year where children are climbing aboard buses, riding bicycles or walking to schools as many school districts in the area have already headed back to the classroom or will be over the course of the next week.

Most schools in the Capital School District began their new school years on Thursday — Dover High School starts today — while Caesar Rodney’s schools will welcome students back on Monday.

In fact, more than 136,000 Delaware students are headed back to schools during this time.

The Dover Police Department is urging all motorists to be on the lookout for buses and children and to be aware of their speed while traveling in school zones.

Dover police caution that they will have special enforcement units patrolling school zones and on bus routes throughout the city to target speeders, passing of school buses and other driving violations that threaten the safety of school children.

The police are asking that as schools open their doors that everyone — including motorists, parents, educators and students — improve their traffic safety practices and to keep cell phones turned off while driving.

Delaware State Police reported that in 2015 there were 189 traffic crashes involving a school bus that resulted in two fatalities. There were also 125 people injured in school bus crashes last year. Of those, 77 of those injured were occupants of the school bus.

In 2015 there were 138 school bus crashes in New Castle County, 22 in Kent County and 29 Sussex County.

“It is critical that everyone who shares the road prepares themselves for back to school, whether they are a student or not,” said Jim Lardear, Director of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.

“Drivers have had the roads to themselves since mid-June. As schools continue to open across Delaware, drivers must remember that their commute time may increase and that leaving home a little earlier can help them get where they need to be on time and with less stress.”

The National Highway Safety Administration reports that from 2005 to 2014 there were 1,332 people of all ages killed in school-transportation-related crashes, ab average of 133 fatalities per year.

Occupants of school transportation vehicles accounted for eight percent of the fatalities while non-occupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, etc.) accounted for 21 percent.

The majority of the people (71 percent) who lost their lives in these crashes were occupants of other vehicles involved.

The Dover Police Department will have a full-time School Resource Officer dedicated to Dover High School, Central Middle School, William Henry Middle School and Parkway Academy.

Police encourage parents to tell their children to communicate any concerns that they may have with those officers as needed, including any issues of bullying or cyberbullying that they might be experiencing.

Reach the Delaware State News newsroom at newsroom@newszap.com

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