Every year around the end of August, over 55 million children wrap up their summer activities and begin heading back to school. As we enter that time once again this year, we should all remember to be a little more cautious while driving when schools are in session, especially when roughly 13% of all students walk or ride their bike to school. According to AAA, more than one-fourth of child pedestrian fatalities occur between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. when kids are trying to get home from their school day during peak traffic hours. There are some things drivers can do to make the roads a little safer for children and themselves.
First, pay careful attention while driving through a school zone and remember to slow down to the posted speed limit in these zones. A pedestrian struck be a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is almost two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster. Second, remember to come to a complete stop at all stop signs and check for kids on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding. More than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones and regular neighborhoods which can cause unnecessary accidents. Third, check carefully for children around your vehicle when reversing. While they should be instructed not to, some children will play in, under, or around vehicles. Fourth, eliminate distractions such as using your cell phone, playing with the radio, or eating. Kids are pretty fast and will often dart into the road or out from between parked cars and taking your eyes of the road for just two seconds can double your chances of crashing. Fifth, watch out for bicyclists. Kids on bikes are sometimes inexperienced, unsteady, and unpredictable so try to leave at least three feet of distance between your vehicle and any bicyclist. Finally, if your child is old enough to drive to school, make sure they understand the hazards of driving in areas with lots of kids around and are extra careful in those situations. We hope these tips and facts help everyone to have a safe and successful school year.