January 6, 2020 - With school resuming after winter break, AAA Oklahoma warns drivers to be especially vigilant for pedestrians before and after school hours. Between 2000 and 2010 in the U.S., nearly one-third of the child pedestrian fatalities – a total of 1,200 – occurred between 3 and 7 p.m. Some 13 percent of school children walk or bike to school.
“It’s up to adult drivers to watch out for children walking and biking to and from school,” said Leslie Gamble, spokesman for AAA Oklahoma. “That includes those getting out of cars in school parking lots which can be particularly dangerous when many are entering and leaving.”
With shorter winter days, students are more likely to be walking before or after daylight hours. “It’s so important to consciously think about the chance that a person may be walking on the road you are driving,” Gamble said. “Be sure your windshield is totally cleared of ice or moisture. Then, watch for movement as you drive because often clothing is dark and it’s difficult to distinguish pedestrians from the darkness.”
AAA offers six steps to keep students safe as they return to school from the holiday break:
- 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.
- 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. Put down the phone.
- 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.
- 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 evidence-based guidance and tips at TeenDriving.AAA.com. New drivers with less road experience are less likely to react quickly to sudden movements of pedestrians. Eyes should be on the road, sweeping back and forth to spot movement in peripheral areas.
- 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.
- Dress and walk for safety. Anyone out before or after daylight should wear light-colored or reflective clothing. At the least, put on white or light-color gloves, hat or shoes. It makes a tremendous difference in visibility to drivers. Stay off the road. Use sidewalks and marked crosswalks. Go to intersections versus crossing in the middle of streets or parking lots. Look carefully for cars if you must enter a roadway.
AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully awareness campaign was launched in 1946 in an effort to prevent school-related child pedestrian traffic crashes—helping kids to live fulfilling, injury-free lives.