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Published on Aug 17, 2012 by Edgar Snyder

Traffic Safety Should be at the Forefront of the New School Year

back to school safety

The new school year is right around the corner. A lot of you are probably in the middle of wrapping up summer plans and getting your kids ready for school. Don't forget that in addition to picking out new clothes and backpacks, it's a good time to review some important safety information and share it with your children.

Pedestrian deaths are on the rise again, which means drivers need to be especially cautious around school zones, bus stops, playgrounds, and residential areas. Kids' peripheral vision is about one-third narrower than an adult's. Combine that with the fact that children are easily distracted, and you've got a potential recipe for disaster.

We want to keep our kids safe, and the American Automobile Association (AAA) recommends the following:

  • Slow down near schools and residential areas. According to a national survey, almost two-thirds of drivers exceed the speed limit in school zones. Slow down – even if you're in a rush.
  • Stop for students in crosswalks – regardless of whether there is a crossing guard or not. You're usually required by law to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, and the law is usually strictly enforced in school zones.
  • Always stop for school buses that are loading or unloading students – it's the law.
  • Look for children between parked cars and other objects. Don't expect them to be paying attention to their surroundings. The majority of child pedestrian fatalities occur at non-intersections.

Parents and caregivers, take some time to talk with your children about how to remain safe in heavy traffic areas. Review safety concerns with them every year. Encourage kids to do the following:

  • Listen to crossing guards who monitor the traffic outside of school zones.
  • Walk in places where there are sidewalks if at all possible. If there isn't a sidewalk, walk facing traffic, in a single-file line. Stay as far away from the road as possible.
  • Wear bright or light-colored clothing in the evening to help stay visible, including at dusk. Remember that it gets dark more quickly as it becomes autumn.
  • Keep away from parked cars or other objects that may not allow drivers to see them.

By taking some of these simple precautions, parents, children, and motorists can help keep everyone safe.

"Getting straight A's in back-to-school traffic safety." AAA Motorist.
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