As 50 million children across the country begin heading back to school, AAA Northeast 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 during after school hours between 3 and 7 p.m.
Most of Framingham students return back to school today, August 29.
“AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully awareness campaign was designed in 1946 to curb a trend of unsafe driving behavior in school zones and neighborhoods that can result in children’s injury and death. Seventy years later, the message remains- we must remind motorists to slow down and stay alert as kids head back to school,” said Mary Maguire, Director of Public and Legislative Affairs for AAA Northeast, in a press release.
AAA offers helpful tips 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. A difference between 25 mph and 35 mph can save a life.
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 to 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.
AAA Northeast is a not-for- profit auto club with 62 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and New York, providing more than 5.2 illion local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.