As families across the country prepare for the upcoming school year, AAA East Central is launching its annual School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign to encourage parents to talk about the importance of school zone safety with their children and teen drivers. This important topic should be at the front of everyone’s mind, especially if their commute takes them through school zones or near school buses.
“School zone speed limits and crossing guards are in place to save lives,” says Lynda Lambert, safety adviser and media spokeswoman for AAA East Central. “Everyone needs to keep the lives of young students in mind as they make their way through these areas, and as the number of school buses on the road increases.”
Slowing down can go a long way in saving the lives of a student as they make their way to class. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 20 mph is about two-thirds less likely to be killed as compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 30 mph. Moreover, nearly 1 in 5 of every child 14 and younger who dies in a traffic crash is a pedestrian.
In addition to slowing down, AAA offers the following advice for motorists to keep children safe as they navigate their way through school zones:
– Ditch distractions: Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing. Reduce risk by not using your cell phone, eating, or practicing any other form of driving “Intexticated”.
– Stay alert: Don’t rush into and out of driveways. Expect pedestrians on the sidewalk, especially around schools and in neighborhoods. Also, mind your vehicle’s blind spots; check for children on the sidewalk, in the driveway, and around your vehicle before slowly backing up.
– Stop at stop signs: It sounds obvious, but research shows that more than one third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop, checking carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.
– Watch for bikes: Children on bicycles are often unpredictable; expect the unexpected. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist.
– Brake for buses: It may be tempting to drive around a stopped school bus, but not only is it dangerous – it’s against the law.
– Plan ahead: Leave early for your destination and build in extra time for congestion. If possible, modify your route to avoid school zones.
– Look for AAA School Safety Patrollers: With more than 600,000 AAA School Safety Patrollers at 31,000 schools across the country, they’re a sure sign that you’re approaching a school zone.
About the AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign:
The campaign was launched nationally in 1946 to help reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities. The campaign kicks off each fall and continues throughout the school year to remind motorists to watch out for children as they travel to and from school.
AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 80 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members. Past news releases are available at news.eastcentral.aaa.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.