As families across the country begin to send their children to school, AAA East Central has launched 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. Motorists are advised to take extra caution when traveling through school zones or near school buses.
“School zone speed limits and crossing guards are in place to save lives,” says JJ Miller, safety advisor for AAA East Central. “Everyone needs to keep the lives of young students in mind as they make their way through school zones and especially near crosswalks.”
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 children 14 and younger who die in traffic crashes are pedestrians.
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 the chances of crashing.
- 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.
- 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.
- Watch for bikes. Children on bicycles are often unpredictable, so expect the unexpected. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and bicyclists.
- 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.