DELRAN - As students return to school next week, a township resident wants motorists to be more conscientious of young pedestrians.
"The first week of September covers Labor Day weekend and the first days back to school," Lona Pangia said. "There is going to be a lot of kids playing on their front yards and walking on the sidewalks, and we just want drivers to be extra aware of their presence."
Pangia is spearheading an effort to get the word out and encourage residents to participate in a townwide "Drive Like Your Kids Live Here" sign campaign.
Founded in 2010, "Drive Like Your Kids Live Here" is a national effort to slow aggressive and distracted drivers in neighborhoods to prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 3 and 14. About 70 percent of children killed or injured by vehicles are struck within blocks of their homes, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.
A mother of 3-year-old triplets, Pangia said she's concerned about the well-being of her daughters and all the other children in town.
"I think it's imperative to remind motorists to be extra aware of small children, especially in our residential neighborhoods," she said. "Delran is a community of mostly residential streets, and drivers need to appreciate that."
With that in mind, Pangia took it upon herself to purchase 200 of the "Drive Like Your Kids Live Here" yard signs.
She believes the little red and white signs will do more than other traffic-calming devices.
"I know with speed bumps, it's like a racetrack between the speed bumps," Pangia said.
And permanent signs tend to lose their effectiveness over time, she said.
"It becomes background noise. I mean, you drive by something so many times, you forget about it."
So far, Pangia has distributed 170 signs to residents and has received some good feedback.
"I think it's been very positive," she said. "I do notice that people slow down when they see the signs."
The campaign runs Sept. 1-8, but Pangia said she hopes residents will bring the signs back out around Halloween, when a lot of youngsters are walking around the neighborhoods.