Each year, approximately 55 million children return to school in Fall, with an estimated 13% walking or bicycling to class. The American Automobile Association (AAA) cautions drivers to be particularly careful and watchful of pedestrians before and after school hours. In the last ten years, nearly 1 in every 4 child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 PM and 7 PM.
Here are several recommendations from AAA regarding ways drivers can help to keep kids safe, reducing child pedestrian injury and fatalities:
•Slow down. A child struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly 2/3 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 1/3 of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop and check for children on the sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.
•Ditch Distractions. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of an accident. Children can quickly cross the road unexpectedly. Do not use your phone and avoid distractions like eating while driving.
•Reverse responsibly. Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, in the driveway and around your vehicle before slowly backing up. Teach your own children to never play in, under or around vehicles.
•Watch for cyclists. Children on bikes 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 ShareTheRoad.AAA.com.
•Talk to your teen. Car accidents are the leading cause of death in teens in the United States, and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occurs during the hours of 3 PM to 7 PM. Find evidence-based guidance for your teen and more tips at TeenDriving.AAA.com
•Teach your little ones. AAA offers safety information for children, including coloring pages, games and car seat safety videos, at SafeSeats4Kids.AAA.com.