School’s Open, Drive Carefully – How to Protect Kids While Driving

by Colin Joliat
Schools open drive carefully

As schools across the Carolinas start their year, many kids will once again be out waiting for busses while others will only travel as far as the kitchen counter.

Vigilance is always important, but the unique nature of this school year makes it all the more essential to slow down and pay attention when driving in neighborhoods and school zones. Some schools have altered their pickup and dropoff schedules, and students participating in virtual learning could be outside throughout the day. That means kids are potentially in the vicinity when drivers ordinarily would not expect them to be.

In an effort to prevent tragedies and help communities improve neighborhood and school safety, AAA has provided tips to abide by in these areas.

  • Slow Down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
  • 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.
  • Eliminate distractions. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing. Children can move quickly; crossing the road unexpectedly or emerging suddenly between two parked cars. Reduce the risk by not using your cell phone or eating while driving, for example.
  • Watch for school buses. Motorists are required to stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and STOP arms extended.
  • 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 a bicyclist. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that he or she wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride. Find videos, expert advice, and safety tips at AAA.com.
  • Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at AAA.com

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