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Kids waking to school prompts call to slow down

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POSTED August 16, 2013 1:01 a.m.


Manteca Unified students are back in school.

That means that they’re no longer spending lazy days in front of the television with their friends, or running back and forth to the park to play whatever sport happens to be popular on that given day.

It also means that they’re out en masse – flooding Manteca’s streets early in the morning and in the afternoon as they make their two and from local elementary and high schools. Traditionally pedestrians and drivers tend not to mix, but local crossing guards and concerned parents take proactive steps to make sure that safety is a top priority – as a result, no major incidents have occurred for years.

According to AAA, 55 million students will go back to school this fall. At least 13 percent of them will walk.
It might not be a big deal for a kid who lives down the street or around the corner from, say, Stella Brockman or Sierra High, but any student that has to walk to Lathrop High School has to make their way past the I-5 onramp and offramp and down a stretch of Spartan Way (formerly Lathrop Road) that can be a racetrack.

“I don’t mind my kids walking because they don’t have to go very far. If they had to cross a busy street or something, I’m not so sure,” Mary Mendoza said. “I can’t take them to school in the morning because I have to work. It’s difficult for working parents, but we do what we do to get by.

“I just make sure that I drive slow because that’s how I want people to drive when my kids are around.”
In a press release prepared by AAA, drivers that live around or pass by schools or school children should make sure that they pay extra close attention to their speed and their level of alertness. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle going 25 miles per hour, the statement reads, is two-thirds more likely to survive than somebody struck by a vehicle going just 10 miles per hour faster.

Keeping focused is also another key part to making sure that children stay safe. Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing according to the release, and children that may unexpectedly step out into the street won’t stand a chance if you’re not looking ahead to see them.

“More than 1,200 children lost their lives during these after-school hours accidents between 2000 and 2012,” said AAA Traffic Safety Advocacy Manager Jennifer Huebner-Davidson. “Although we’ve seen a decrease in the number of tragedies each year, it’s important to remember that one death is too many.”

The speed around Manteca schools is 25 miles per hour when children are present, and motorists are expected to stop for buses when children are loading and unloading.

To contact Jason Campbell, email jcampbell@mantecabulletin.com or call (209) 249-3544.

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