MINNEAPOLIS — As 55 million children across the country begin heading back to school, AAA urges motorists to slow down and stay alert in neighborhoods and school zones, and to be especially vigilant for pedestrians during before and after-school hours. The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous for walking children — over the last decade, nearly one-third of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3-7 p.m.
“More than 330 child pedestrians died in 2013 and 13,000 were injured,” cautioned club spokeswoman Jamie Korf. “AAA’s School’s Open — Drive Carefully awareness campaign is designed to curb a trend of unsafe driving behavior in school zones and neighborhoods that can result in children’s injury and death. We must remind motorists to slow down and stay alert as kids head back to school.”
AAA offers six ways to keep kids safe this school year:
1. Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
2. Eliminate distractions. Children often cross the road unexpectedly and may emerge suddenly between two parked cars. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
3. Reverse responsibly. Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, driveway and around your vehicle before slowly backing up. Teach your children to never play in, under or around vehicles—even those that are parked.
4. Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and more than one-quarter of fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3-7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at TeenDriving.AAA.com.
5. Come to a complete stop. 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.
6. Watch for bicycles. Children on bikes are often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and the bicycle. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that they wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride. Find videos, expert advice and safety tips at ShareTheRoad.AAA.com.