According to the American Automobile Association, more than 55 million children will be heading back to school over the next couple of weeks, and around 13 percent of them will be walking or biking. Others, will be riding school buses or getting rides in cars, which means that school zones can be choked with cars and buses just before and after school hours.
This time of year, drivers have often forgotten the school-year congestion and the presence of kids on their regular routes, so it’s important to reacquaint ourselves with the changes so we can avoid car accidents involving vulnerable young walkers and bikers. No one wants to be responsible for injuring a child, but we sometimes forget that they don’t operate in the same hectic, distracting world as adults.
Since 1946, AAA has run an annual safety awareness campaign called “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” urging drivers to keep a lookout for children on the streets — especially between 3 and 7 p.m., when more than a quarter of child pedestrian fatalities typically occur. Here is a brief reminder of AAA’s school year safety tips:
Slow down, especially in school zones. Did you know that if a car going 25 mph hits a pedestrian, that person is almost two-thirds less likely to die than if the car had been going 35 mph?
Stop completely, particularly in neighborhoods and school zones. Over a third of all drivers roll through these stop signs, often with catastrophic results.
Don’t take your eyes off the road, even for two seconds. That seemingly insignificant amount of time distracted doubles your chance of a car accident.
Don’t back up until you’re sure you’re clear. Every car has blind spots that could allow you to miss a child. Before you get in your vehicle, look around for any nearby children and back up slowly.
Notice that bicycle! Adult cyclists may zip along fearlessly, but children are less experienced and can be unpredictable. Always give them at least three feet of distance from your car, and proceed slowly past.
Teens need reminders, too. Car accidents are the leading cause of death among U.S. teenagers, and inexperienced drivers may not be prepared to deal with the unexpected — like school kids.
Let’s all work together this year to make sure there are no serious or fatal car accidents involving Bay Area children this year.
- AAA Newsroom, “Stepping Up and Out Safely,” Aug. 5, 2013
- AAA Exchange, “School’s Open – Drive Carefully”