AAA urges motorists to slow down and stay alert for children going to school.
The greatest threat children face today is motor vehicle crashes. While walking, cycling, or as a passenger in a motor vehicle, these crashes are the leading cause of death for children ages 3 and older. The problem escalates during the months kids are in school. The annual School’s Open – Drive Carefully! campaign serves as a reminder to motorists to be vigilant in areas where children are common.
Since AAA began School’s Open – Drive Carefully! in 1946, the program has successfully contributed to lowering school-related pedestrian fatalities. As part of AAA’s “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” campaign, AAA offers 10 key tips for motorists to help keep kids safe as they return to school:
Slow Down – Whether in a school zone or residential neighborhood, motorists should keep their speed low and be prepared to stop quickly for increased vehicle or pedestrian traffic.
Obey Traffic Signs – Obeying traffic signs is something all motorists should do no matter where they drive. Forty-five percent of motorists did not come to a complete stop in a recent study, with 37 percent rolling through and seven percent not even slowing down.
Stay Alert, Avoid Distractions – Looking away from the roadway for just two seconds doubles the chance of being involved in a crash. Avoid talking on mobile phones, adjusting the radio or any other activities that might take attention away from the road. Never text while driving.
Scan Between Parked Cars – Children can quickly dart out between parked cars or other objects along the roadway. Motorists should pay close attention not only at intersections, but along any residential roadways where children could be present.
Look for Clues of Children Nearby – Keep an eye out for clues that children are likely nearby such as AAA School Safety Patrol members, crossing guards, bicycles and playgrounds.
Always Stop for School Buses – For 23 million students nationwide, the school day begins and/or ends with a trip on a school bus. The greatest risk they face is not riding the bus, but approaching or leaving it. Flashing yellow lights on a school bus indicate it is preparing to stop to load or unload children, and motorists should slow down and prepare to stop. Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped, and children are getting on and off. Motorists are required to stop their vehicles and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
Allow For Extra Travel Time – Rush hour often means increased congestion and longer commute times. Motorists should allow for extra travel time when school is in session to avoid any temptation to speed or disobey traffic laws in an effort to ‘catch up’ after being delayed.
Review Your Travel Route – Motorists should consider modifying their travel route to avoid school zones and residential neighborhoods. A slightly longer route might actually be quicker by avoiding congestion and much lower speed limits in and around school zones.
Use Extra Caution in Bad Weather – Whether in rain, snow, fog or any other inclement weather, motorists should use extra caution. Reduced visibility can make it difficult for motorists to see children and children to see vehicles. It also can make it difficult to perform quick stops, if needed.
Use Headlights – Turn on your headlights, even during the day, so children and other drivers can see you.