Archive | August, 2015

Back to School tips and SRTS News

21 Aug

There are only a few days left until school starts and we wanted to share some back to school safety tips and Safe Routes to School Updates.

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Credit: Wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

Here are some of the rules to go over with your child before they start traveling to and from school.

Taking the school bus:

  • Always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.
  • Wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
  • Walk only where you can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see you too).
  • Look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required.
  • Do not move around on the bus.
  • If the school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure you use one at all times when in the bus.

If you are driving them to School:

  • All passengers should wear a seat belt or use an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat.
  • Your child should ride in a car safety seat with a harness as long as possible and then ride in a belt-positioning booster seat. Your child is ready for a booster seat when she has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders are above the top harness slots, or her ears have reached the top of the seat.
  • Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age).
  • All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), move the front-seat passenger’s seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it.
  • Remember that many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. You should require seat belt use, limit the number of teen passengers, and do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations,  texting or other mobile device use to prevent driver distraction. Limit nighttime driving and driving in inclement weather. Familiarize yourself with your state’s graduated driver’s license law and consider the use of a parent-teen driver agreement to facilitate the early driving learning process. For a sample parent-teen driver agreement, see www.healthychildren.org/teendriver

Biking to school:

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.
  • Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic.
  • Use appropriate hand signals.
  • Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility. White or light-colored clothing and reflective gear is especially important after dark.
  • Know the “rules of the road.”

Walking to School:

  • Make sure your child’s walk to school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.
  • Identify other children in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school.  In neighborhoods with higher levels of traffic, consider organizing a “walking school bus,” in which an adult accompanies a group of neighborhood children walking to school.
  • Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.
  • If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
  • Bright-colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.

And if your child is walking to school or would like to walk to school, we have exciting news! GMTMA will launch the New Jersey Walking School Bus app during the last week of August. The app will be available for both Android and iOS and it will help you with many of the walking to school tips suggested above.

Stay tuned for the App launch and be the first to try it!

The Safe Routes to School GMTMA coordinators for Mercer and Ocean counties in New Jersey can help create a walking and biking culture at every school in our region. At NO COST, GMTMA can help your school and community implement a SRTS program by helping you with the following SRTS elements: Travel Plans, Evaluation and Monitoring, Youth Bicycle and Pedestrian Education, and Bike/Walk Events & Education Assistance.

For more information about the event and other Safe Routes to School programs, please visit www.gmtma.org. Sign Up for Walk and Bike to School Day 2014 while you’re at it!

Safety Tips Source: American Academy of Pediatrics https://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/pages/Back-to-School-Tips.aspx

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The Shared Use Economy Booms…. (carpooling, not so much)

14 Aug

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It’s almost impossible not to hear a news report or read an article about the boom in the shared use economy.  In fact, there’s a good chance you’re participating in it.  Uber, Lyft, RelayRides, Airbnb, are all examples of the huge growth in the sharing economy.

The concept is rooted in sustainability. Pool resources and it’s better for the environment and your finances.  It’s socially responsible.  It’s everything we learned in kindergarten…be nice and share!

And who were the early adopters of the sharing economy?  Carpoolers! Using that decidedly simple way to commute to work while saving money and reducing emissions.

And yet, in a report just released by the U.S. Census Bureau, Who Drives to Work? Commuting by Automobile in the United States:2013, the rate of carpooling  is shown as declining during each decade since 1980. About 9.0 percent of workers carpooled in 2013, down from 19.7 percent in 1980.  During this same time period, the number of people commuting by car increased to a peak of almost 88% in 2000 and has remained relatively stable since, dropping to just 86% in 2013.  Approximately 76% of those people are driving alone.  That leaves a lot of unused seating capacity out on our roads.

Ironic, given the current interest in all things shared, the rate of carpooling is falling.  It’s a statistic we’d love to see turnaround.  Try asking your co-worker or spouse if they want to share the ride.  If you need help finding a carpool partner just contact gmtma.org and register to find a carpool partner in our statewide database.  We make it easy and we offer a rewards program too!

Carpooling…the name may sound old school, but the concept is definitely not.

Stop On Red Week

6 Aug

August 5th marked the 101st anniversary of the first traffic lights. The traffic light was introduced as a way to reduce the number of deaths and crashes resulting from the growing numbers of high-speed cars sharing the road with pedestrians, bicyclists, and other means of transportation.

These days the use of the traffic lights is widespread, and we count on other people to respect driving rules and stop on red. But according to National Coalition for Safer Roads too many people do not stop on red.   “In 2009 alone, 676 people were killed and 113,000 injured in crashes that involved red light running. Of the 676 people killed — two-thirds were occupants of a vehicle that did not run a red light, pedestrians and bicyclists.”

To raise awareness of the dangers of red light running the week of August 2 – August 8 was declared National Stop on Red Week.

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Among the many aspects of the campaign, one focus is informing people about the Top Ten Reasons to Stop On Red and another is getting public support.

What can you do to help raise awareness?

Safety is important, and we are all responsible for making the right decisions, not only this week but at all times. Running a red light is dangerous, and it could cost someone’s life.