Red and white lawn signs with the words "Drive Like Your Kids Live Here," have popped in residential areas around the country over the past year.
You may even know someone who owns one, but in a few weeks 25 of the white signs will be coming to Stonington, bought not by residents but by the town to install in residential areas under existing road signs.
The town plans to install the 25 "Drive Like Your Kids Live Here" signs as a new traffic initiative designed to raise awareness about driving safety in residential areas.
"It's another awareness measure," First Selectman Edward Haberek Jr. said.
Speeding, use of crosswalks and pedestrian safety are frequent concerns throughout Stonington, Mystic, and Pawcatuck but especially in residential areas. The police department sends out traffic alerts for weekends expected to be particularly busy and the borough has slow down signs. Still residential streets such as River Crest Drive in Pawcatuck and Cutler Street in Stonington often become cut-throughs for residents and visitors seeking a quicker way to their destination.
It was similar types of residential areas in Wethersfield, Connecticut that led to the establishment in 2010 of Drive Like Your Kids Live Here. Founder Petulia Pugliares lives in a residential area near two schools. After witnessing several accidents and near misses Pugliares did some research and discovered the leading cause of death for children under 14 involved motor vehicles. She saw the need to remind drivers to be careful.
"People were just not stopping [at the stop signs], were driving too fast and were distracted," Pugliares said.
In Stonington the white retroreflective signs will be placed underneath existing road signs in areas that a task force, that includes Haberek, Police Chief J. Darren Stewart, and Public Works Director Joe Bragaw, decides are areas prone to speeding. They will also be seeking suggestions from residents.
"We'll pick certain areas and see what works," Bragaw said. "If you flood out too many signs it defeats the purpose of the signs."
The town expects the signs will go up within the next two weeks and Drive Like Your Kids Live Here is also donating "Drive Like Your Kids Live Here," magnets that will go on the back of the town's highway department trucks.
"It will create more of an awareness," Haberek said.
The signs began as yard signs but Pugliares hopes towns and cities will adopt not just the signs to install but also programs to raise awareness of the issue.
"It's a new fresh face of child safety," Pugliares said. "A message that hits home."