Reading, Writing and Road Rules: AAA Mid-Atlantic Offers
Back to School Safety Tips
Nearly one in four pedestrian fatalities occurred during after-school hours
PHILADELPHIA, PA (August 23, 2018) –– Every fall, more than 55 million children across the United States head back to school. With 13 percent of those children typically walking or biking to their classes, AAA warns drivers to be especially vigilant for pedestrians before and after school hours. The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous, with nearly one in four child pedestrian fatalities occurring between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
“It’s that time when motorists need to be much more aware and careful, as Philadelphia-area students head back to school,” said Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Kids will be walking and biking to school, getting on and off school buses, and in and out of cars in carpool lines. All of these situations create extra hazards for drivers as well as the student pedestrians and bicyclists. In addition, many new, inexperienced teen drivers will be driving to school for the first time, creating additional concerns for traffic safety.”
AAA Mid-Atlantic and the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education are renewing the call to motorists to slow down and stay alert with its annual School’s Open—Drive Carefully campaign. Launched in 1946, AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully awareness campaign was created as a way to help reduce child pedestrian fatalities and injuries.
Tips for Motorists
- Always Stop for School 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 Motorists are required to stop their vehicles and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
- 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.
- Slow Down – Whether in a school zone or residential neighborhood, motorists should keep their speed low and be prepared to stop quickly for increased vehicle or pedestrian traffic.
- Come to a complete stop. Always come to a complete stop, checking carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.
- Scan Between Parked Cars – Children can quickly dart out between parked cars.
- Look for Clues of Children Nearby – Keep an eye out for clues that children are likely nearby such as AAA School Safety patrol members, crossing guards, bicycles and playgrounds.
- 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 a bicyclist. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that he or she wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride. Find videos, expert advice and safety tips at ShareTheRoad.AAA.com.
- Eliminate distractions. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing. Children can be quick, crossing the road unexpectedly or emerging suddenly between two parked cars. Reduce risk by not using your cell phone while driving.
- Obey Traffic Signs – Unfortunately, many motorists violate stop signs in school zones and residential neighborhoods –many failing to come to a complete stop, rolling through a stop sign or not slowing down at all
“Drivers have had the roads to themselves since mid-June,” says Tidwell. “As schools continue to open across the region, 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.”
Pedestrian Safety Tips:
- Cross only at corners so drivers can see you. Never cross between parked cars or mid-block.
- Use a crosswalk when it’s available. Don’t assume that because you can see the driver, the driver can see you. Always use caution when crossing.
- Cross right when the light turns green so you have time to cross safely.
- Use the crosswalk push-button signal when possible, and cross when the signal allows.
- Look all ways before crossing. Look and listen for cars, pedestrians and bicyclists.
- Watch for cars that are turning left or right when you are crossing.
- Walk on a sidewalk when it is provided. If you must walk in the street, walk facing traffic, on the left side of the road and as far to the left as possible.
- Make it easy for drivers to see you – dress in light colors, wear reflective material or use a flashlight.
- Remove headphones and don’t use cell phones or electronic devices when crossing the street.
- Watch for vehicles backing out of driveways or coming out of parking lots.
- Avoid walking alone. Walk with a friend.
- Cooperate with crossing guards, AAA School Safety Patrollers and police officers.
- Be careful in bad weather. Drivers may not see you, and cars may not be able to stop as quickly.
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AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Pennsylvania. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.