EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – As schools throughout Westchester County get set to make their final preparations before the academic year begins, the Tuckahoe Police Department is warning motorists to exercise additional caution when navigating the roads that will soon be filled with students.
This year, Tuckahoe Police Officers Paul D’Onofrio and Vincent Pinto joined Barbara Ward, a traffic safety specialist with AAA and local students Olivia and Gianna Solano to kick off AAA New York’s 69th annual “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” campaign at police headquarters.
The department has mounted several signs warning drivers that schools are open in the village and thousands of children are heading back to school. Similar signage will also be posted by the Eastchester and Bronxville police departments.
Eastchester Police Lt. Robert Jensen said the department participates in the program annually to promote safety and awareness. Each year, each of the town’s three departments adjusts where signage is put, depending on traffic patterns.
Throughout the state, AAA will distribute thousands of posters to local police departments to remind drivers that children and school buses begin flooding the streets in September. The posters can be found at major intersections, popular areas of business and at all school crossings. More than 10,000 bumper stickers with the same sentiment will also be circulated around the state.
The “Drive Carefully” program was started in 1933 in St. Louis, Mo., by P.F. Drury, a former safety director for the Automobile Club of Missouri. It was picked up by AAA clubs around the nation two years later, and made its way to New York in 1945.
Donna Galasso, the assistant director of AAA New York’s Traffic Safety unit, said drivers and bicyclists should be prepared to stop on either side of the street for school buses and students crossing the street.
“The help we get from our club-area police departments adds to the effectiveness of our ‘School’s Open’ campaign,” she said. “The efforts of [Officers] D’Onofrio and Solano will increase safety for all students.”