As more than 55 million students across the United States gear up for the 2011-2012 school year, AAA reminds motorists to slow down in school zones and watch for children heading back to school. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic 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,” said Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, AAA manager of traffic safety advocacy. “Motorists need to be especially vigilant during the morning and afternoon hours when school children are walking to and from school.”
AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign was launched in 1946 to help reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities. In addition to slowing down, AAA offers the following advice for motorists to keep children safe as they navigate their way through school zones.
- Ditch distractions. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
- Stay alert. Don’t rush into and out of driveways. Expect pedestrians on the sidewalk, especially around schools and in neighborhoods.
- Stop at stop signs. It sounds obvious, but research shows that more than one third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods.
- Watch for bikes. Children on bicycles are often unpredictable; expect the unexpected.
- Brake for buses. A recent National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services survey showed that over 75,000 vehicles pass stopped school buses on a typical day, with more than three percent passing on the right. Not only is it dangerous, it’s against the law.
- Plan ahead. Leave early for your destination and build in extra time for congestion. If possible, modify your route to avoid school zones.
- Look for AAA School Safety Patrollers. With more than 600,000 AAA School Safety Patrollers at 31,000 schools across the country, they’re a sure sign you’re approaching a school zone.
In addition to AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign, AAA has teamed up with Richard Scarry’s Busytown Mysteries with characters like Lowly Worm offering tips on to help keep children safe.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 52 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.
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