[8/31/16] Back To School Safe Driving Tips From AAA

Posted in Transportation

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School’s open: Safe Driving Tips for Back to School

The summer is now over and more than a million Washington kids are back for the new school year. Most K-8th graders will ride a school bus or be dropped off by a parent; however, 16% of them will walk or ride a bicycle to school, leaving them vulnerable to being struck by a vehicle.

In 2014, there were 12 fatal and 68 serious injury bicycle and pedestrian related collisions involving school-aged children here in Washington. Twenty four collisions occurred on school days during arrival and departure times.

AAA wants to remind everyone to pay attention when they’re driving, slowdown in school zones, use caution around school buses and follow the rules of the road.

Parents with teens who drive to school also need to be vigilant at the start of the new school year. Research by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows the number of teen collisions spike in September during the hours just before school starts and the hours after school. AAA encourages parents to stay involved in their teen’s driving; set the example of good driving behavior; limit the number of teen passengers riding in the vehicle; and have a parent-teen driving agreement that defines the teen’s driving responsibilities, privileges and consequences, thereby setting the stage for a safe school year.

Safe driving tips for back to school

  • Slow down. Obey Washington’s 20 mph speed limit in school zones. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 20 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian hit by a vehicle traveling 30 mph.
  • Keep your eyes on the road and your mind focused on driving. Pay attention while driving and eliminate dangerous distractions that can increase the risk of being involved in a collision. Store the cell phone out of reach to limit its use when you’re behind the wheel.   
  • Come to a complete stop. More than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop before proceeding.
  • Reverse responsibly. Check for children on the sidewalk, in driveways, in school parking lots and around your vehicle before slowly backing up.
  • Respect pedestrian crossing zones. More than 22,000 students in Washington State volunteer as AAA School Safety Patrollers to help protect their fellow classmates as they go to and from school. To help keep pedestrians safe when you’re approaching a crossing zone, make eye contact with patrollers to ensure maximum safety.
  • Watch for bicyclists. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist. Expert advice, videos and safety tips are available at ShareTheRoad.AAA.com.
  • Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the number one cause of teen fatalities, and most collisions involving a teen driver is because of inexperience or driver error. Get evidence-based guidance on teen driving, a parent-teen driving agreement and other helpful teen driving safety tips at Keys2drive.com.
  • Plan for extra time. Expect an increase in traffic around schools and more school buses on the road. Drive carefully and choose alternate routes to avoid school zones if possible, or plan ahead and allow for extra travel time.
  • Practice. Knowledge and practice of safe walking and biking around traffic is essential. Choose safe walking and bicycling routes and demonstrate the rules of the road with your children before school starts.
  • Use caution around stopped school buses.  Be alert; children can be unpredictable as they load or unload the bus. Always follow the school bus flashing lights and the extended arm stop signals, and never pass a school bus on the right. 

Remember, it’s everyone’s responsibility to be alert, to follow the rules of the road and to have patience, which will help keep everyone safe traveling to and from school. For more information on school zone safety, go to School’s Open – Drive Carefully at exchange.aaa.com.

About AAA Washington

AAA Washington has been serving members and the traveling public since 1904.  The organization provides a variety of exclusive benefits, including roadside assistance, discounts, maps and personalized trip planning, to its 1,121,000 members. In addition, its full-service travel and insurance agencies provide products and services for members and the public. Additional information is available through the company’s stores in Washington and northern Idaho, at AAA.com, or by calling 1-800-562-2582.