Drivers Urged to be Careful as Schools Reopen

 Area schools open Friday, Sept. 2

The Brewster Police Department, Carmel Police Department, Cold Spring Police Department, Kent Police Department, New York State Police and Putnam County Sheriff’s Office have joined together to urge motorists in the County to exercise extra care during their morning and afternoon commutes as area schools open on Friday, Sept.2.

Drivers have to be alert for stopped school buses, children crossing the streets, groups of children and parents congregating at bus stops and extra traffic congestion around schools, said Putnam County Sheriff Donald B. Smith.  Being safety-conscious while driving is certainly the required mindset to have every day of the year, said the Sheriff, “but we have to be especially careful at this time of year, to protect our most precious treasures: our children.”

Drivers should plan ahead to allot extra time for commutes or for travel during the morning and afternoon hours, making allowances for school buses picking up and discharging children along local roads, said Carmel Police Chief Michael Johnson.  Cold Spring Officer-in-Charge George Kane echoed that advice, adding: Planning extra travel time will avoid feeling rushedwhich can lead to driving mistakesand will make for a more relaxing and safer trip.

Kent Police Lieutenant Alex DiVernieri reminds motorists that it is not only extremely dangerous but also against the law to pass a stopped school bus from either direction. Even after a bus turns off its red flashing lights and pulls away from a stop, drivers should watch out for children who may dart across the street against traffic.  Youngsters are often very excited to be home when they get off the bus from school, said Lt. DiVernieri, and, being young and exuberant, they sometimes don’t perceive danger Brewster Police Officer-in-Charge John Delgardo said that motorists should be particularly vigilant when passing through villages and residential neighborhoods.

New York State Police Lieutenant Thomas Jones said that state troopers would also be doing their part to assist in the county-wide enforcement effort. The New York State Police is committed to working with our colleagues at the village, town and county levels as we strive to make this upcoming year the safest ever for users of Putnam County roadways.

Members of the Putnam County Traffic Safety Board, which is chaired by Sheriff Smith, has estimated that there are as many as 50,000 instances of motorists passing stopped school busses across the state on any given school day.  As added reminders to Putnam drivers the agencies are posting School’s Open  Drive Carefully road signs furnished by the Automobile Association of America.

Law enforcement officials said their agencies’ patrols will be on the lookout for cars that pass stopped school busses.  Sheriff Smith has ordered deputies to specifically monitor school bus stops along Routes 9 and 9D in Philipstown, where accidents involving school busses have been reported in past years.  Police patrols will also be stepping up enforcement of speed limits and seatbelt usage on roads near schools.  We want all motorists to enjoy safe travel on our roads and wish our students, teachers, and school staffs a productive and rewarding year in school, said Sheriff Smith

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