AAA wants to help keep your kids safe as they head back to school.
Nearly one in four child pedestrian deaths in the last decade happened as kids were heading home from school.
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic (AAFTS) Safety, a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at a reduced school zone speed of 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
"School zone speed limits are in place to save lives," says AAA Public Affairs Specialist Kara Hitchens. "Motorists need to be especially vigilant during the morning and afternoon hours when school children are walking to and from school."
This is why AAA hosts the " School's Open, Drive Carefully" campaign every year to bring awareness to safe driving and reducing child pedestrian deaths by offering yard signs to place in your front yard to remind drivers to pay close attention while driving, especially during school hours.
The signs are available at area AAA locations while supplies last.
AAA also offers tips for drivers to help keep kids safe:
• Slow down. Follow posted speed limits at all times, especially in areas of heavy pedestrian traffic. This is even more important in areas that have lower speeds limits, such as school zones and neighborhood streets where pedestrians may appear suddenly.
• Come to a complete stop. Research shows that more than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop, checking carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.
• Eliminate distractions. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing. This spring, AAA launched a new, multi-year initiative that aims to prevent deaths and injuries as a result of cell phone use by drivers. "Don't Drive Intoxicated – Don't Drive Intexticated" is the theme of this multimedia traffic safety education campaign created to make distracted driving socially unacceptable. AAA has made traffic safety a priority since 1921, working to make roads, vehicles and drivers safer. Through this latest initiative, AAA is committed to changing attitudes and behaviors surrounding the deadly problem of distracted driving. The public is invited to take the Don't Drive Intexticated pledge. Visit www.aaa.com/dontdrivedistracted to join this lifesaving effort and take the pledge online.
• Reverse responsibility. Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, in the driveway and around your vehicle before slowly backing up. Teach your children to never play in, under or around vehicles.
• 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 a properly fitted helmet be worn on every ride. Find videos, expert advice and safety tips at ShareTheRoad.AAA.com.
• Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in this country, and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at TeenDriving.AAA.com.
Tips parents may share with children who will be walking or biking to school:
• Cross responsibly. Always cross the street at a corner or at a crosswalk; cross with a crossing guard if there is one.
• Be seen. If it is dark, wear light-colored clothing or clothing with reflective material.
• Never cross behind a bus or car. Do not cross behind a bus or vehicle where a driver cannot see you. Only cross in front of a bus or vehicle when the driver says it is safe to do so.
• Adopt a buddy system. Walk with a trusted adult or friend.
• Choose the best route. Parents should discuss walking routes with their child and choose the safest. Once chosen, parents should walk that route with their child and discuss any present road dangers.
• Stay alert. Remind your children that it's important to be alert and aware of their surroundings. Also, eliminate distractions such as headphones which can prevent your child from hearing emergency sirens, horns or traffic signals.