Drivers need to be more aware as kids head back to school

Children will be walking, biking and getting on school buses now and drivers need to be especially aware of them before and after school hours. (Source AAA)
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LANSING, MI (WILX) - School is back in session for some schools across Michigan with more heading back in the next week.

This annual event also kicks off AAA's statewide - "School's Open-Drive Carefully" campaign.

The campaign reminds us that children will be walking, biking and getting on school buses now and drivers need to be especially aware of them before and after school hours.

AAA reports that over the last decade, nearly one in four child-pedestrian-fatalities occurred between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

“The start of the school year is a particularly challenging time for parents because of new routines and increased traffic,” said Adrienne Woodland, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “We encourage anyone taking children to school, and all drivers, to establish habits that help them stay focused on the task of driving.”

Here is a list of recommendations from AAA regarding ways drivers can help with keeping kids 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 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. And children can be quick, crossing the road unexpectedly or emerging suddenly between two parked cars. Some ways to reduce risk include not using your cell phone or eating while driving and putting aside electronic distractions.

• 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 children to never play in, under or around vehicles.

• 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. 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 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. to 7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at TeenDriving.AAA.com.

The initiative has been in place for 73 years.

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