December 6, 2023
Annapolis, US 42 F

School’s Open! Slow Down. Be Alert!

With hundreds of thousands of public and private school students returning to the classroom for the 2022-23 school year, the Maryland Department of Transportation is reminding drivers and pedestrians that everyone has a role in keeping Maryland’s youngest commuters safe, whether they travel by car or school bus, or walk or ride a bike or scooter.

“The start of the new school year is right around the corner, and our roads will look a lot different in the mornings and afternoons,” said MDOT Secretary James F. Ports, Jr. “With more vehicles, school buses and children on our roads and sidewalks, we all need to do our part to make sure students get to and from school safely. That means following the rules of the road, staying alert and avoiding distractions.”

According to the MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration’s (MDOT MVA) Highway Safety Office, there have been 295 fatalities this year on Maryland roadways as of August 1, including more than 70 pedestrian fatalities. Motorists should always follow these safety measures, particularly in school zones and neighborhoods:

  • Always stop for pedestrians.
  • Obey traffic signs, signals and markings.
  • Observe posted speed limits. Speeding makes it more difficult to stop for pedestrians.
  • Look before backing out of a driveway or parking space.
  • Keep your eyes on the road. It’s illegal to use a handheld phone/devise or text while driving.
  • Remember that when a school bus stops, the flashing red lights go on and the stop sign arm is extended, drivers in BOTH directions are required by Maryland law to stop if there is not a median.

“Distracted driving continues to contribute to thousands of injuries and more than one-third of Maryland’s motor vehicle fatalities every year,” said MDOT MVA Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Larry Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative. “These crashes are preventable. We need all road users, including motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists, to look out for one another, eliminate distractions and slow down so we can all get to our destination safely.”

“We must always be on the lookout for pedestrians, bicyclists and others so please put down our phones and other distractions,” said MDOT SHA Administrator Tim Smith. “As our children return to school, motorists should allow more time in the morning to get to work, and drive slow in school zones and residential areas.”

Parents are reminded of their important role as leaders by example. Please discuss pedestrian safety behaviors with your children, with special emphasis on these safety tips:

  • Use sidewalks and marked crosswalks whenever possible.
  • Press the pedestrian signal button and wait for the walk signal.
  • Always stop at the curb and looking left, right and left again before crossing a street.
  • Watch for cars turning in or leaving driveways.
  • Be sure to walk – not run – when crossing the street.
  • Stand away from traffic and the street when waiting for the school bus; wait for the bus to come to a complete stop and the students to enter the bus.

Learn more from the MDOT MVA’s Highway Safety Office at or on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @ZeroDeathsMD.

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