Slow down in school zones for students’ sake, AAA advises

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As students across the United States start the 2013-2014 school year, AAA reminds motorists to be aware of increased child pedestrian activity, school bus presence and traffic congestion in and around neighborhoods and school zones.

“School zone speed limits are in place to save lives,” said JJ Miller, AAA East Central safety advisor. “Motorists need to be especially vigilant during the morning and afternoon hours when school children are walking to and from school.”

AAA also reminds West Virginia drivers that all vehicles must stop before meeting, from either direction, a school bus that is stopped for loading or unloading children and displays flashing lights and the stop signal arm. This rule does not apply if the bus is on a different roadway or where pedestrians are not permitted to cross the road.

“Concentrating on the road and avoiding distractions is the most important advice I could offer drivers,” said Miller. “Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for two seconds doubles your chances of crashing. Putting down your phone makes you a safer driver and sets a good example for young passengers and pedestrians,” she added.

Launched in 1946, AAA’s School’s Open Drive Carefully awareness campaign was created to help reduce child pedestrian fatalities and injuries. Here are several additional recommendations for drivers:

  • Follow the speed limit. School zone speed limits are purposefully set low. Children are unpredictable and may have difficulty gauging the distance and speed of an approaching car.
  • Look for AAA School Safety Patrollers. With more than half a million AAA School Safety Patrollers at 30,000 schools across the country, they’re a sure sign you’re approaching a school zone.
  • Come to a complete stop at intersections with stop signs. 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.
  • Reverse responsibly. Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, in the driveway and around your vehicle before slowly backing up.
  • Watch for bicycles. 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.
  • Plan ahead. Leave early for your destination and build in extra time for congestion. Modify your route to avoid school zones and traffic.

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit organization with 82 local offices in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and New York, servicing 2.7 million members.

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