With neighboring school districts practicing different back-to-school options this year, AAA East Central is advising motorists to take extra caution when driving through residential areas where students could be commuting.
“Just because there isn’t a school bus in one part of your neighborhood doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be another in the next school district,” said Theresa Podguski, director of legislative affairs, AAA East Central. “School zone speed limits, crossing guards, and markings on buses are in place to save lives, and need to be followed by motorists.”
AAA’s annual School’s Open — Drive Carefully campaign stresses how important it is for motorists to make changes to their daily commute to avoid dangerous situations. Even the simple act of slowing down can go a long way towards saving the lives of students.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 20 mph is about two-thirds less likely to be killed as compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 30 mph. Moreover, about 1 of 5 of children 14 and younger that die in traffic crashes are pedestrians.
AAA East Central also offers the following advice for motorists to keep children safe as they navigate their way through school zones:
• Plan ahead. Leave early for your destination and build in extra time for congestion. This will cut down on stress from running late.
• Ditch distractions. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles the chances of crashing.
• Stay alert. Don’t rush into and out of driveways. Expect pedestrians on the sidewalk, especially around schools and in neighborhoods.
• Brake for buses. It may be tempting to drive around a stopped school bus; not only is it dangerous — it’s against the law.
• Watch for bikes. Children on bicycles are often unpredictable, so expect the unexpected. Slow down and allow at least four feet of passing distance between your vehicle and bicyclists.
The campaign was launched nationally in 1946 to help reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities. The campaign kicks off each fall and continues throughout the school year to remind motorists to watch out for children as they travel to and from school.