Schools open this week for a new year and it's as if the community suddenly has come alive with new energy and activity.

The "Back-to-School" time really is quite exciting, no matter if you're a parent looking forward to having the kids back in school all day; a student who is ready to rock new gear and catch up with friends (and, of course, learn a thing or two); or simply a resident who enjoys the sense of community that accompanies the occasion.

School time is also when schedules tend to get extra busy and we naturally quicken our pace to make sure everything that needs to get done, does. This is all good and well, but we encourage residents to exercise extra caution during this time, too.

The dawn of a new school year brings with it more children out and about, walking to and from school and waiting at one of the hundreds of bus stops throughout town.

The combination of motorists rushing to work or to the grocery store with that of children on or near roadways need not be a dangerous one.

How so? It's simple: slow down.

There is no job important enough to jeopardize the safety of children, or yourself for that matter. And dinner can wait.

Furthermore, instead of focusing on how slowing down could negatively impact your schedule, think about how you will be actively promoting the safety of our town's children. Plus, maybe as you pass a group of kids at a slower pace you will see and be able to wave to your child's friends or the children of your friends -- it's seemingly insignificant moments like these that can have a profoundly positive impact on us all, and reinforce the bonds of community in our neighborhoods.

Despite the annoyance some get from being behind a "Sunday driver," going slower can actually be quite enjoyable and even less stressful. When you're not in a rush, you're less likely to get upset when you get stuck at every red light, and you're more likely to appreciate the surroundings, perhaps you'll notice a new business or restaurant in the neighborhood that you hadn't noticed before. Give it a try.

We realize this is a two-way street -- that the burden of responsibility does not solely rest on the shoulders of motorists. And, as such, we would like to reinforce a message delivered this week by public safety officials across the state and country. In a press release, Connecticut State Police urge parents and guardians to discuss traffic, pedestrian and personal safety issues with their children as they head back to school. The importance of these conversations cannot be overstated. Don't miss the opportunity to instill this knowledge. And most importantly, lead by example.