Summer is coming to an end, school is back in session, and over 55 million children across the U.S. are heading back to the classroom. School zone lights will flash once again as 13 percent of those children flock to your local crossing walks as they walk or bike to and from school. Those lights are a reminder to drive carefully before and after school hours, especially in the evening, as over one-fourth of child pedestrian fatalities occur between 3 and 7 p.m.
Since 1946, AAA has reminded drivers of the back-to-school season through their School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign. Created to reduce and prevent child pedestrian fatalities and injuries, the campaign warns drivers to drive carefully during the school season and raises awareness of child pedestrian safety. Drivers, help keep our kids safe by following these back-to-school driving tips from AAA:
- Follow reduced speed limits in school zones and drive slow near schools, in residential neighborhoods, and around child pedestrians
- Come to a complete stop and check carefully for children at stop signs, crosswalks, and intersections
- Watch for children on bikes, pass them slowly, and allow at least 3 feet of passing distance
- Stop behind stopped school buses, as children might be crossing
- Drive without distractions, such as cell phones
- Check for children all around your vehicle before backing out of or pulling into a driveway and when turning
While adult and teen drivers should practice responsibility in keeping kids safe, parents can ensures that their children are kept extra safe by teaching them about pedestrian safety. Talk to your children about how to walk to and from school safely and include these top tips from Safekids.org:
- Walk on sidewalks or designated paths and cross the road at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks
- Look left, right, and left again before crossing the street, crossing only when cars are stopped and no cars are coming in either direction
- Make eye contact with drivers in stopped cars before crossing in front of them and watch out for cars that are turning or backing up
- Avoid using a cell phone, headphones, or anything else that distracts you from seeing or hearing traffic. If you need to use your phone, stop walking and find a safe area to talk. If you listen to your headphones, remove them when crossing the street.
- Wear a helmet when biking to and from school and practice the same safety tips you would when walking