The countdown to the beginning of the school year has shrunk from months to weeks to days. While summer may be on the minds of many as Labor Day draws the season to a close, school district officials want to remind motorists its once again time to watch for students crossing North Country roadways. Chazy Central Rural School District superintendent Kevin R. Mulligan, is one of several administrative officials across the county who stresses the importance of safety as school returns to session. Mulligan said while its ultimately the individual needs of each school that determines the speeds of school zones, safety is the common element in all districts. Essentially, from the Chazy perspective, if traffic could reduce their speed, especially on Route 9 around the school, it would be greatly appreciated. Typically, motorists get used to not having to reduce their speed during the summer months when school is not in session, said Mulligan. It doesnt take long to get into that habit, but, now you have to start slowing down again, he said. Peter J. Turner, superintendent of the Northeastern Clinton Central School District, agreed. Obviously, our primary concern is the welfare of our students and the last thing we want to do is deal with an injury or fatality, Turner said. We certainly stress to everybody to be safe. When you see a student crossing the street or crossing from a school bus, exercise caution. Motorists should leave earlier for their destinations to allow for stopping for a school bus or pedestrians who will be out in greater numbers during the school year, said Turner, especially during the first few weeks of school. Leave yourself a safe margin of time so you dont find yourself speeding, said Turner. Everybody gets a little more frantic when theyre running late. Whatever the speed limit is, obey it and do not push it. According to New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law, the alternatives for motorists who do not obey speed limits in school zones are fines and possible imprisonment. Depending on the rate of speed, fines could range from $60-$400 and result in jail time of up to 30 days. A motorist convicted of passing a stopped school bus may face a fine of up to $400 and jail time of up to 30 days, for a first offense. Repeat offenders face stiffer penalties with fines in excess of $1,000 and up to 180 days in jail. While motorists should exercise extreme caution, students are also reminded to pay close attention when crossing the road. Some tips for students include: Pay attention to all traffic signals and crossing guards never cross the street against a stop light. Cross only at crosswalks, and never run into the street from between parked cars. Look left, right and over your shoulder for traffic before crossing a street, and continue to check each direction. Make sure drivers see you by making eye contact with them. If riding a bicycle, scooter or skateboard to school, always wear a helmet and ride in the same direction as traffic walk your bike if crossing a street. For more information about pedestrian and motorist safety, visit the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee Web site at www.nysgtsc.state.ny.us.