School is in Session

Take care on the road as children head back to school for the year
Meredith Terpstra

Every fall, more than 55 million children head back to school in the United States. This means that 16% of the population is en route to and from school each day, not including the parents and guardians that drop kids off or the teachers, faculty, school staff, bus drivers and law enforcement that work with school children five days out of the week.

With 13% of school-aged children riding their bikes or walking to class and another 55% riding the bus, AAA Minneapolis urges drivers to be especially vigilant in the hours right before and after school, and when driving in school zones.

Back to School: How You Can Help Keep Children Safe

  • Eliminate distractions. Kids often cross the road in unexpected areas and taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
  • Slow down. Speed limits are reduced in school zones because pedestrians struck by vehicles traveling at 25 mph or less are nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to pedestrians struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
  • Stop completely. Research shows that more than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones and neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop and check for children before accelerating.
  • Watch for bicycles. Children on bikes are often unsteady, inexperienced and unpredictable. Make sure to allow at least 3 feet of space when passing a bicycle. If your child bikes to school, make sure they are wearing a properly fitted helmet and bike-appropriate clothing.
  • Obey all bus laws. There are laws dictating when a driver must stop for a stopped school bus and when it's OK to continue driving. For example, drivers must stop at least 20 feet away from the school bus when its red lights are flashing. Stopping is also required when a stop arm is extended on an undivided highway or if your vehicle is on the same side of the road as the bus.
  • Talk to your teens. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving a teen driver occur during the after-school hours of 3 to 7 p.m.