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August 27, 2007

ISBE, IDOT urge drivers to give students a brake as more than 2 million Illinois kids head back to the classroom
Electronic message boards programmed to remind motorists school is back in session; use extra caution around school zones and buses

Springfield, Ill. – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) today reminded drivers to be extra cautious on the roadways as more than 2 million students head back to school. The Illinois Department of Transportation will be flashing messages on its changeable message boards reminding drivers that school is back in session. Last year, nearly 100 children between the age of 5 and 18 were killed and nearly 12,000, mostly within the same age range were injured in crashes in which they were either passengers, a pedestrian or on a bike.

“The end of summer means that buses will be on the road and students will be walking or riding their bikes to school,” said State Superintendent of education Christopher Koch. “It means that drivers will need to pay attention and look for school buses and watch for students especially in the morning and afternoon in and around school zones.”

The Labor Day weekend marks the traditional end of summer and start of the school year throughout Illinois. During the weeks surrounding the Labor Day holiday weekend the Illinois Department of Transportation has agreed to display the message, “Kids are Back in School, Give Them a Brake,” reminding motorists that school is beginning. IDOT has 55 changeable message signs throughout the state.

“Kids are changing their routines and drivers will need to change theirs as school starts throughout the state. They’ll need to slow down in school speed zones and stop when they see a bus with its lights flashing and arm extended,” said Acting IDOT Secretary Milt Sees. “It only takes a split second for a tragedy to occur. We want drivers to remember more kids are going to be out on the streets especially in the morning and afternoons. Please, look out for them.”

Last year, there were 92 children between the ages of 5 and 18, killed in automobile crashes, an increase of 7 from 2005. In 2006, 11,748 children in this age group were injured in crashes, an increase of nearly 400 from 2005. In 2006, there were 2 people killed and 325 injured in 2066 crashes involving school buses, compared to 7 people killed and 352 injured in 2,363 crashes the year before. 

Tips for back to school driving include:

• Speed limit in a school zone is 20 mph on school days between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. when children are present and signs are posted
• A school zone is a no passing zone
• A driver must yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian in a marked or unmarked crosswalk on the driver’s side of the roadway and there are no traffic control signals
• A driver must yield the right-of-way when a person is walking with a green light or entered a crosswalk before the traffic signal changed
• You must stop before passing a school bus when it is loading or unloading passengers and you must remain stopped while the signal arm is extended and lights are flashing
• It is not necessary to stop when you are traveling in the opposite direction of a stopped school bus on a roadway with four or more lanes. However, you should use caution


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