Reading, Writing and Road Rules: AAA Mid-Atlantic
Back to School Safety Tips
Earn an A+ in Safety: Tips for parents, students and motorists
Hamilton, NJ, August 28, 2019 – As more than one million New Jersey students head back to school. AAA Mid-Atlantic and the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education are urging parents, students and all motorists sharing the roads with school buses to put safety first with its annual School’s Open—Drive Carefully campaign.
“It is critical that everyone who shares the road prepares themselves for back to school, whether they are a student or not,” says Frank Neary, Community Educator for the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education. “Drivers have had the roads to themselves since mid-June. As schools open across New Jersey, drivers must remember that their commute time may increase and that leaving home a little earlier can help them get where they need to be on time and with less stress.”
Nationally, millions of children across the United States are returning to school, with 13 percent of them walking or biking to school. However, the recent spikes in impaired and distracted driving present new challenges for all road users.
“This is a particularly dangerous time as students distracted by phones and friends mix with drivers who are dealing with an increase in traffic and may be distracted themselves,” says Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “It is critical that everyone put their phones down, look up and look out for each other”.
Afternoons present additional risks because children are often distracted by thoughts of playtime and other activities on their journey home. Over the last decade nearly one in four child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
AAA Offers 10 Lifesaving Lessons for Back to School Safety
- Eliminate distractions. Drivers AND pedestrians should limit distractions. The beginning of the school year is the perfect time to have a conversation with children about looking up and looking out for motorists when crossing the street. Adults can set an example by promising to put their phones away when behind the wheel and taking the pledge not to drive ‘intexticated’. Parents can demonstrate their commitment by signing the pledge not to drive ‘intexticated’ at www.aaa.com/dontdrivedistracted
- Brake for Buses. Flashing yellow lights on a school bus indicate it is preparing to stop to load or unload children and motorists should slow down and prepare to stop. Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on and off. Motorists are required to stop their vehicles and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
- Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
- Watch for bicycles. Children on bikes are often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Expect the unexpected. 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.
- Back up with caution. 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.
- 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.
- Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and more than one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 to 7 p.m. Get more information and tips at TeenDriving.AAA.com.
- Use Crosswalks. Teach children the importance of using crosswalks and how to look left-right-left before crossing. Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is not a sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
- Keep Track of Time. Be aware of the time of day you’re on the road and how that coincides with the school day. More school-age pedestrians were killed from 7 to 8 a.m. and from 3 to 4 p.m. than any other hours of the day.
- Look before you lock. Parents who have made the tragic mistake of forgetting a child in a hot car often cite a change in routine as a contributing factor. AAA Mid-Atlantic is reminding all parents and caregivers whose routines have been disrupted by ‘back to school’ to ‘Look before you Lock’ your car to ensure every child’s safety.