Warren Police Sgt. Jeff Cole said that although incidents like the one last year in which a 12-year-old city boy was hurt after being struck by an SUV near his school are rare locally, he doesn't want to see something like that happen again.
For that reason, Cole, spokesman for the city police department, wants drivers to be aware that school will soon be back in session for thousands of children across the Mahoning Valley.
"If it happens once, it's too many times," Cole said. "The main thing is for motorists to pay attention and be careful, pay attention to speed zones near the schools.
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Third-grader Olivia Zigarovich, 8, right, works on math problems with her teacher, Rachelle Severn, during the first day of school Tuesday at Champion Central Elementary School.
''At the beginning of the school year especially, be cognizant that the buses are en route again and that kids are going to be at the bus stops, walking near the schools. Just pay attention, and slow down."
Austintown started school on Tuesday and other districts are scheduled begin the 2012-13 school year over the next couple of weeks.
The Ohio State Patrol is also advising motorists to use caution, and in recent weeks has been issuing reminders about state safety laws. For example, motorists approaching a school bus from either direction are required to stop a least 10 feet back from buses displaying red flashing lights and an extended stop arm.
Yesterday - Austintown, Champion, Girard
Today - Howland, Lordstown
Thursday- Joseph Badger
Monday - Bloomfield-Mespo, Bristol. Hubbard, Lakeview, Liberty, Maplewood, Mathews, McDonald, Niles, Southington, Trumbull Career / Technical Center, Warren, Weathersfield
Tuesday - LaBrae, Newton Falls
Aug. 29 - Brookfield
Sept. 4 - Canfield, Youngstown
From 2009 through 2011, 4,326 motorists were cited for failing to stop for a school bus loading or unloading children, according to patrol reports.
''Although drivers of all vehicles are required to stop for a school bus when it is stopped to load or unload passengers, children should not rely on them to do so,'' said Col. John Born, patrol superintendent. "Children exiting the bus should always stop and look both ways before crossing the street and remain alert to any sudden traffic changes."
Motorists need to plan ahead and allow extra time for these school bus stops, and they are urged to exercise patience and never pass a stopped school bus, Born said.
Additionally, motorists need to watch out for children walking to and from the bus stop when they are backing out of a garage or driveway, he noted.