SCHOOL’S OPEN – DRIVE CAREFULLY REMINDER FROM AAA NORTHEAST
As the new school year begins, AAA Northeast reminds both motorists and families that extra caution is needed as children make their way to school by walking and riding in areas where they weren’t seen over the summer.
The greatest risk to children isn’t when they’re riding the school bus; it’s approaching or leaving them. Between 2008 and 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports 264 school-age children were killed in school transportation-related crashes, primarily when they waited at bus stops or crossed streets before boarding or getting off school buses.
“Children can get caught up in the excitement of back to school time and might forget to look for cars even though motorists are required to yield and stop for school buses with activated lights,” said Mark Schieldrop, AAA Northeast Massachusetts spokesperson. “Drivers need to be aware—especially in school zones, near playgrounds and at bus stops—that kids might dart into streets.”
Through its annual School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign, AAA offers tips to drivers to keep children safe:
- 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 more than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods.
- Look for clues, such as AAA School Safety Patrollers, crossing guards, and school zone signs that indicate children are in the area.
- Keep your eyes moving. Scan between parked cars; look for shadows on the ground. Since children can be quick crossing roadways unexpectedly or emerging suddenly between parked cars, understand that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of colliding with another car or pedestrian.
On the other hand, parents and guardians should teach school-aged children to:
· Cross at corners, not in mid-block. Use crosswalks if they’re available.
· Use your ‘eagle’ eyes: look left, right, then left again before crossing streets.
· Right on reds can be dangerous; watch for turning vehicles when crossing at corners.
· Eliminate electronics such as headphones and cellphones when crossing streets.
AAA Northeast reminds drivers that flashing yellow lights on a school bus means slow down because the bus is preparing to stop. Red flashing lights means stop, including cars in the opposite lane on undivided roads. In Massachusetts, the law requires drivers to stop at least 100 feet behind a school bus and stay stopped until the bus light stops flashing, the extended stop-arm is retracted and the bus begins to move.“Safe driving habits are important year-round, but extra diligence is required when children are heading to and from school,” Schieldrop added.