As every parent of a school-age child likely knows, summer vacation has pretty much ended and school will start Wednesday for Dunkirk schools.
The city of Dunkirk Police Department reminds everyone to pay close attention to children as they walk to and from school and to obey the laws regarding speed in school zones, walking in the roadway, riding bicycles and yielding the right of way to stopped school buses.
The speed limit in school zones is 15 miles per hour for all school areas from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. any day school is in session. The speed limit on Route 60 by School 3 is different, being set at 20 miles per hour when school is in session. The Police Department will have patrol officers checking the school zone areas for violations of the speed limit.
"Our priority in enforcing this law is for the safety of the children. As always, voluntary compliance is very helpful but there will be strict enforcement and traffic summonses will be issued for the safety of the children," Chief David Ortolano stated. "The few seconds it takes to slow down will not disrupt anyone's day. We want everyone to be aware and pay close attention to children who are walking to and from school.
"As they walk to and from school the children have a million things on their minds."
Ortolano reminded motorists to pay attention and follow the directions of the school crossing guards; failure to stop as directed can result in the arrest of the vehicle operator. Stopping for school buses with their red lights flashing is also a must.
"All vehicles on the highway operating in any direction on single-lane or multiple-lane highways must stop before their vehicle reaches the school bus when the bus has its red flashing lights in operation. The operators of vehicles cannot proceed past any such bus until the lights stop flashing or they are signaled by the bus driver or a police officer to safely proceed," Ortolano explained. "Violations of this law will be strictly dealt with and the punishment can range from heavy fines to jail time or a combination of both. We take violations of this law very seriously. Throughout the school year we will have patrols checking on school bus operations to ensure safety."
Another concern is child safety.
"Parents are urged to talk with their children about the dangers of them talking with or getting into a vehicle with any strangers or entering a house," Ortolano stated. "If approached by any stranger teach your children to run away, scream, yell and find a teacher, police officer, crossing guard or an adult they know."
Student dropoffs at the Middle School on Eagle Street are to be done on the west side of the street, the same side as the school, in order keep children from crossing the road in front of traffic. In addition, trying to make a left turn into the loop causes traffic backup and safety issues.
"We will have patrols in the area to monitor this situation. We are also issuing a strict reminder to everyone about walking in the roadway," the chief added. "This is very dangerous and if traffic is obstructed it is a violation of the New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law and also the Penal Law, depending upon the situation. Anyone riding a bicycle is reminded that they must follow all the rules of the road as if they were a vehicle. We will have enforcement in all areas to maintain vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle safety.
"Again, we are urging parents to talk with their children about these safety issues. By spending a few extra minutes as drivers of vehicles or as parents talking with their children everyone can help make school a safe, enjoyable learning experience for our children. The children of today hold the key to the future and we must take the extra precautions to protect them and keep them safe."