AAA is reminding drivers that school is open so drive carefully. Each fall, thousands of children return to school. This results in increased traffic and additional responsibility for drivers. Drivers must take extra precautions when driving in school zones and other areas where children are present (i.e. playgrounds and neighborhoods). According to Safe Kids Worldwide, 444 children under the age of 19 years died in pedestrian accidents involving a vehicle in 2013. During 2012, roughly 19,100 children were injured in pedestrian accidents involving vehicles.
Even though there has been a decline in pedestrian deaths for children over the past decade, even one life lost is one child too many.
Drivers must accept the responsibility of keeping children safe because most children do not have the maturity level to understand the risks and dangers associated with traffic accidents. The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions parents about allowing their children to be unsupervised pedestrians, especially under the age of 10 years. A child lacks the maturity to understand the risks and dangers associated with crossing the street. Therefore, a child is incapable of making safe decisions as a pedestrian.
This information is equally important for drivers. Now that school is in session and children will be more present as pedestrians, it is important to review important safety tips for school zones.
Safety Tips in School Zones
When approaching a school zone, or any area where children are present, always slow down. Maximum speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. Children can be very unpredictable. They can dart out into traffic without warning. You need additional time to stop or take evasive measures if a child darts into the road in front of your vehicle. Furthermore, a child is less likely to be killed when struck by a vehicle that is travelling at a low speed.
Always come to a complete stop at all crosswalks and stop signs. It may be tempting to perform a “rolling stop” when you are in a rush. However, a rolling stop could result in a tragic accident. Furthermore, eliminate all distractions when driving in a school zone. Children are quick. A child can be in front of your vehicle within a few seconds. If you are distracted because you are eating, texting, or adjusting the radio, you may not see the child until it is too late. Always remain focused and highly alert when approaching and driving through a school zone.
Don’t Forget To Talk To Your Teen Driver
Your teen driver does not have the same experience behind the wheel as you do. Teens need to be aware of the dangers of driving in school zones but they also need to be instructed in safe driving behaviors for all circumstances.
The leading cause of death for teens in the United States is car accidents. Twenty-five percent of those car accidents occur during the hours between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Do not stop educating your teen driver simply because he or she has a driver’s license. Educating your teen driver on safe driving habits should be an ongoing process. You can find more information about educating teen drivers on the AAA and Teen Driving websites.
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