(Coppell, TX) - As 50 million children across the country begin heading back to school, AAA urges motorists to slow down and stay alert in neighborhoods and school zones, and to be especially vigilant for pedestrians during before- and after-school hours. The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous for walking children – over the last decade, nearly one-third of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 and 7 p.m.
Across the nation more than 309 child pedestrians died in 2014 and 11,000 were injured. In Texas that same year 26 child pedestrians died and two of those happened during school transport hours.
“AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully awareness campaign was designed in 1946 to curb a trend of unsafe driving behavior in school zones and neighborhoods that can result in children’s injury and death,” said AAA Texas/New Mexico Representative Doug Shupe. “Seventy years later, the message remains- we must remind motorists to slow down and stay alert as kids head back to school.”
AAA offers helpful tips to keep kids safe this school year:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause 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. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at TeenDriving.AAA.com.
- 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.
- 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 the bicycle. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that they wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride. Find videos, expert advice and safety tips at ShareTheRoad.AAA.com.
As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 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. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. AAA Texas branch offices throughout the state can be found by visiting www.AAA.com. Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAATexas. Find more information in the AAA Texas newsroom at: http://tx-aaa.iprsoftware.com/