Ocean County Press Release
SCHOOLS ARE ABOUT TO OPEN AND BOTH DRIVERS AND CHILDREN NEED TO BE ALERT TO PREVENT ACCIDENTS, FREEHOLDER VICARI SAYS

AS THE START of another school year approaches, Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari is again reminding both drivers and children to use extra caution on the county's roads and sidewalks.

"It only takes a moment for tragedy to strike," Vicari said. "Whether students take the bus, walk, ride a bicycle or are driven to school by their parents, there are safety rules everyone must follow," he said.

For motorists, safe driving begins before the car even reaches the street, he said.

"Even while backing out of your driveway you may encounter inattentive students walking or biking to school," Vicari, a lifelong educator, said.

Drivers must also be extra alert for lower speed limits near schools.

When approaching any intersection, pedestrian crossing or school zone, be alert, cover the brake and be ready to stop, he said.

"Take a hard look," Vicari said. "Look, and then look again, for the child hidden by parked cars, shrubbery or high grass, trees, or poles. Even mailboxes can obscure a child, if only for a moment."

Watch for the "darting child" who runs into the roadway chasing a ball or some other object, he said.

He also urged students to use extra caution and carefully check for any moving traffic when they exit a school bus.

"Never trust a vehicle to stop just because the bus is flashing its red warning lights. Always look both ways before crossing the street after stepping out of the school bus," Vicari said.

Vicari said children walking or biking to school should always follow the same route and avoid short cuts.

"Parents should walk with their children at least once at the start of school so they know the route and how long it takes to travel to and from school," he said.

Vicari advised children to walk in groups and pay attention to any hazards along the way, such as road construction or barking dogs.

"If a child is approached by a stranger in a car, they should be taught to run the opposite way – towards the rear of the car. This way, the driver will have to first turn around before they can pursue the child," he said
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Vicari also reminded children who ride their bikes to school that they must obey all traffic laws and wear a safety helmet as required by law.

The start of the school year is also a good time to check the Meghan's Law website, which will identify any convicted sex offenders that may be living near bus stops or walkers' route to school, Vicari said
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The database can be accessed through a link on the Ocean County Government Homepage at www.co.ocean.nj.us. The page can also be accessed directly at
www.njsp.org/sex-offender-registry.

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