Patrolmen Scott DiNonno and Bill Badner, along with the Poughkeepsie Police Department and local school children, helped AAA New York launch its 68th annual “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” campaign.
Colorful “School’s Open” posters will be mounted in Poughkeepsie to warn motorists to be extra careful as thousands of local youngsters return to school.
“The help and support that we get from our club-area police departments adds to the effectiveness of our ‘School’s Open’ campaign,” said Donna Galasso, Assistant Director of the club’s Traffic Safety unit. “We appreciate the efforts of the Poughkeepsie Police Department, which will result in increased safety for all students,” said Galasso.
Ms. Galasso reminds drivers, including bicyclists to be especially cautious in school areas, keeping their speed at or below posted limits and being prepared to stop, on both sides of the street, for school buses with flashing red lights and stop arms, as required by New York State law.
The club’s annual “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” campaign is conducted with local government and police agencies. Thousands of posters, bumper stickers and other educational materials are distributed through the program.
AAA New York State’s “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” program began in 1945. Since then, it has helped to prevent injuries and deaths among children of elementary school age.
AAA New York, the local AAA affiliate, provides automotive, travel and financial services to more than 1.6 million members in New York City, and in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, Ulster, Sullivan, Chenango, Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie, Herkimer and parts of Lewis, Madison and Oneida counties.
AAA’s “School’s Open-Drive Carefully” campaign is conducted every fall to remind drivers to watch out for school children as they head back to school. The nationwide campaign is designed to reduce the number of traffic crashes involving school-age pedestrians and school bus riders. AAA clubs distribute nearly two million pieces of material annually, including posters, banners, bumper stickers and literature carrying one simple message – be extra careful behind the wheel as schools reopen after summer vacation.
P. F. Drury, a former safety director for the Automobile Club of Missouri, initiated the “School’s Open-Drive Carefully” campaign in the St. Louis, Missouri area in 1933. The campaign spread to other AAA clubs throughout the United States. AAA New York State began its program in 1945.
Schools, police, government agencies, corporations and individual AAA members participate in the program. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and other high-ranking officials issue proclamations supporting the campaign.
How the Campaign Works
Posters are displayed inside and outside schools throughout the region. They are also displayed outdoors along school routes, and indoors in police precincts, store windows, firehouses, and libraries. Bumper stickers are displayed on police cars, school buses, sanitation trucks, taxis, commercial vehicles, and private vehicles.
Other organizations also pitch in. The state’s Department of Transportation displays the “School’s Open-Drive Carefully” slogan on its variable message signs along major highways, such as the Long Island Expressway. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority does the same at its toll facilities for bridges and tunnels. Posters are on display at all motor vehicle offices statewide, and the Port Authority displays posters at its tollbooths.
AAA New York will distribute over 3,800 posters and 13,000 bumper stickers in approximately 170 communities, including New York City. Statewide, over 4,000 posters and nearly 17,000 bumper stickers will be distributed by AAA clubs.