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Reminder: Drive safe – school is back in session!

It’s back-to-school season across the U.S. with 56 million students expected to enroll in kindergarten through high school classes at more than 98,000 schools this year. As many students return to school motorists need to use extra caution with the increased congestion on roadways.

“Nearly one-fifth of traffic fatalities that involve children below the age of 15 are pedestrians, with more school-age pedestrians killed between the hours of 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. than any other time of day,” said Leticia Messam, manager, traffic safety programs at AAA Auto Club South.

As part of AAA’s annual School’s Open—Drive Carefully campaign, AAA offers 10 key tips for motorists to help keep kids safe as they return to school. Scroll to bottom for Fact Sheet.

1. Slow Down. Two-thirds of motorists exceeded the posted speed limit during the 30-minute period before and after school, according to a 2003 national observational survey. 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.

2. Obey Traffic Signs. Obeying traffic signs is something all motorists should do no matter where they drive. However, a national observational survey found that many motorists violated stop signs in school zones and residential neighborhoods. Forty-five percent did not come to a complete stop with 37 percent rolling through and seven percent not even slowing down.

3. Stay Alert. Motorists should always avoid distractions while driving, but it’s particularly important in school zones and residential neighborhoods. Looking away from the roadway for just two seconds doubles the chance of being involved in a crash. Avoid talking on mobile phones, adjusting the radio or any other activities that might take attention away from the roadway. Never text while driving.

4. Scan Between Parked Cars. Nearly 40 percent of child pedestrian fatalities occurred in between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., mostly at non-intersection locations. Children can quickly dart out between parked cars or other objects along the roadway. Motorists should pay close attention not only at intersections, but along any residential roadways where children could be present.

5. 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.

6. Always Stop for School Buses. For 23 million students, the school day begins and/or ends with a ride on a school bus. The greatest risk they face is not riding the bus, but approaching or leaving it. 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 or 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.

7. Allot Extra Travel Time. Back to school often means increased congestion and longer commute times. Motorists should allot extra travel time when school is in session to avoid any temptation to speed or disobey traffic laws in an effort to ‘catch up’ after being delayed.

8. Review Your Travel Route. Motorists should consider modifying their travel route to avoid school zones and residential neighborhoods. A slightly longer route might actually be quicker by avoiding congestion and much lower speed limits in and around school zones.

9. Use Extra Caution in Bad Weather. Whether in rain, snow, fog or any other inclement weather, motorists should use extra caution. Reduced visibility can make it difficult for motorists to see children and/or children to see vehicles. It also can make it difficult to perform quick stops, if needed.

10. Use Headlights. Turn on the vehicle’s daytime running lights or headlights—even during the day—so children and other drivers can see them more easily. But, don’t forget to turn them off when you reach your destination to maintain your battery life.

Schools Open-Drive Carefully Facts:

·         56 million students are projected to be enrolled in U.S. elementary through high schools (grade K-12) this fall.7

·         An average of 19 school-age children die in school transportation related traffic crashes each year. 2

·         In 2003, a national observation survey found many motorists at intersections in school zones and residential neighborhoods violated stop signs: 45 percent by not coming to a complete stop with 37 percent by rolling through and 7 percent by not even slowing down. 6

Children ages 14 and under are more likely to suffer pedestrian injuries in areas with high traffic volume, a higher number of parked vehicles on the street, higher posted speed limits, no divided highways, few pedestrian-control devices and few alternative play areas. 6

·         A national survey of speeding in school zones found that two-thirds of drivers exceed the posted speed limit during the 30-minute period before and after school. 6

·         The total annual cost of traffic-related pedestrian death and injury among children ages 14 and under is more than $5.2 billion. 5

·         During 2007, 39 percent of the child pedestrian fatalities occurred in between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. mostly at non-intersections. 1

·         Nearly one-fifth of the traffic fatalities in the 0-14 age group were pedestrians. 1

·         The 0-14 age group accounted for seven percent of the overall pedestrian fatalities. Of those child pedestrian fatalities, 61 percent were males. 1

·         In 2007, 29 children under the age of 15 were killed by drunk drivers (BAC >0.01 g/dl) while riding bikes or walking. 1

·         Children between 0-14 accounted for 13 percent of pedalcyclists who were killed in motor vehicle crashes. 1

·         Since 1997, 152 school-age pedestrians (0-19 years of age) have died in school transportation related crashes. Nearly two-thirds were killed by school buses, 7 percent by vehicles functioning as buses, and 24 percent by other vehicles involved in the crashes. 2

·         More school-age pedestrians are killed in the afternoon between the hours of 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. than any other time of day. 2

·         On average, a pedestrian is killed in a traffic crash every 113 minutes. 3

·         On average, a pedestrian is injured in a traffic crash every 8 minutes. 3

·         In 2007, one-fifth of all children age 5 to 9 who were killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians. Eight percent of all traffic fatalities under age 16 were pedestrians, and 23 percent of all under age 16 who were injured in traffic crashes were pedestrians. 3

·         In 2007, New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia accounted for the highest percentages of pedestrian fatalities. 3

·         Urban areas account for twice the rate of traffic-related pedestrian deaths as rural areas. “Child pedestrian injuries occur more often in residential areas and on local roads that are straight, paved and dry. Children are more likely to be walking in urban and residential areas, which increase their exposure to traffic threats.” 6

·         The majority of child pedestrian fatalities occur at non-intersections. “Contributing factors include a child’s tendency to dart into the street without looking for oncoming traffic and little instruction for children on the right way to cross the street. A recent report indicated that 90 percent of children ages 5 to 12 surveyed in San Diego schools did not know the proper way to cross a street – at the curb using crosswalks and signals, when available.” 6

·         “In 2001, the National SAFE KIDS Campaign collected and analyzed data from more than 9,000 walkability checks completed by parents and children across the country. The walkability check, developed with NHTSA and the Partnership for a Walkable America, is a tool to gather critical information about a pedestrian environment. The survey findings reveal that nearly 60 percent of parents and children encountered at least one serious hazard along their routes to school. Common hazards included the lack of a sidewalk or crosswalk, wide roads, complicated traffic conditions, improper parking and speeding.” 6

AAA Travel, with 4.1 million members in Florida, Georgia, Western and Middle Tennessee, and Puerto Rico is the largest travel agency in the Southeast United States and is one of the top 10 leisure travel agencies in the nation. AAA is the largest membership travel organization in the world with more than 51 million members in North America.

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Posted by Andrea Freygang on Aug 27 2009. Filed under Schools. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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