As 1.6 million children across Georgia begin heading back to school, AAA urges motorists to slow down, stay alert in neighborhoods and school zones. Also, to be especially vigilant for pedestrians during before- and after-school hours. Children are particularly vulnerable during the afternoon hours following their school day. Over the last decade, nearly one-third of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 and 6 p.m.
“We are aware of the risk to children in and around school zones which is why we developed the AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully awareness campaign to help curb unsafe driving behavior near schools,” said Garrett Townsend, Georgia Public Affairs Director, AAA-The Auto Club Group. “If Georgia motorists slow down and stay alert, they can save lives.”
The AAA School’s Open Drive Carefully awareness campaign was launched in 1946 in an effort to prevent school-related child pedestrian traffic crashes - helping kids to live fulfilling, injury-free lives.
AAA offers seven ways to keep kids safe this school year:
1. Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster. A difference between 25 mph and 35 mph can save a life.
2. Eliminate distractions. Children often cross the road unexpectedly and may emerge suddenly between two parked cars. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
3. Reverse responsibly. Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, driveway and around your vehicle before slowly backing up. Teach your children to never play in, under or around vehicles—even those that are parked.
4. Talk to your teen. Car crashes are one of the leading causes of death for teens in the United States, and more than one-quarter of fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 to 7 p.m.
5. 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.
6. Watch for bicycles. Children on bicycles are often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and the bicycle. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that they wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride.
7. Look for AAA School Safety Patrollers - Nationwide, more than 679,000 AAA School Safety Patrollers stand guard at over 35,000 schools. When you see one, a school zone is likely nearby.
“If parents and other driver’s follow these simple rules when driving in and around schools zones, countless children can avoid injury and death,” continues Townsend. “It’s up to us to help all drivers become more aware of the risks of driving around our schools.”