VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (August 28, 2019) – The day after Labor Day marks the first day of school for many students in Virginia. That Tuesday morning there will be school buses, teen drivers and young walkers all heading for school in addition to the normal traffic and congestion. According to NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), 214 child pedestrians were killed in 2017, making 19 percent of total pedestrian fatalities nationally. AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign is held during the first weeks of school to remind drivers to be extra vigilant before and after school. AAA has 14 banners throughout the Hampton Roads area to remind drivers to be extra vigilant on the road. By increasing awareness especially near school zones, we can reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities.
“In 2018, Virginia saw more than 509 child pedestrians’ injuries and nine fatalities in children age 15 and under, which is significantly more than the year before,” states Georjeane Blumling, Vice President of Public Affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully awareness campaign was designed in 1946 to curb a trend of unsafe driving behavior in school zones and neighborhoods that can result in children’s injury and death.”
AAA offers helpful tips to keep kids safe this school year:
1. Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster. A difference between 25 mph and 35 mph can save a life.
2. Eliminate distractions. Children often cross the road unexpectedly and may emerge suddenly between two parked cars. Put away your phone and “Don’t Drive INTEXTICATED” it may save a child’s life. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
3. Reverse responsibly. Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, driveway and around your vehicle before slowly backing up. Teach your children to never play in, under or around vehicles—even those that are parked.
4. Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and more than one-quarter of fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 to 7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at TeenDriving.AAA.com.
5. 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.
6. 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 the bicycle. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that they wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride. Find videos, expert advice and safety tips at ShareTheRoad.AAA.com.
As part of North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA Tidewater Virginia provides its more than 330,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding AAA Tidewater Virginia has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. For more information, visit AAA.com and follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/AAATidewaterVA or Facebook at facebook.com/AAATidewaterVirginia.