Every fall, more than 55 million children across the U.S. head back to school. With 13% of those children typically walking or biking to school, AAA warns drivers to be especially vigilant for young pedestrians before and after school hours. The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous, AAA notes. Over the past decade, more than one-fourth of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Here’s some AAA advice you can pass along to your fleet drivers:
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. Reduce risk by not using your cell phone or eating while driving, for example.
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 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. Make sure your own children always wear a helmet whenever bicycling.