aaa schools openEarn an A+ in Safety: Tips for parents, students and motorists

Hamilton, NJ – In the next week or so, more than 1.37 million New Jersey students will head back to school. AAA Mid-Atlantic and the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education are urging parents, students and all motorists sharing the roads with school buses to put safety first with its annual School’s Open—Drive Carefully campaign.  

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that from 2005 to 2014, there were 1,332 people of all ages killed in school-transportation-related crashes, an average of 133 fatalities per year. Occupants of school transportation vehicles accounted for eight percent of the fatalities while non-occupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, etc.) accounted for 21 percent of the fatalities. Most of the people (71 percent) who lost their lives in these crashes were occupants of other vehicles involved.  

“It is critical that everyone who shares the road prepares themselves for back to school, whether they are a student or not,” says Sue Madden, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Drivers have had the roads to themselves since mid-June,” says Madden. “As schools prepare to open across the New Jersey, drivers must remember that their commute time may increase and that leaving home a little earlier can help them get where they need to be on time and with less stress.”

Tips for Motorists

    Keep Track of Time – Be aware of the time of day you’re on the road and how that coincides with the school day. More school-age pedestrians were killed from 7 to 8 a.m. and from 3 to 4 p.m. than any other hours of the day.
    Slow Down – Whether in a school zone or residential neighborhood, motorists should keep their speed low and be prepared to stop quickly for increased vehicle or pedestrian traffic.
    Scan Between Parked Cars – Children can quickly dart out between parked cars.
    Look for Clues of Children Nearby – Keep an eye out for clues that children are likely nearby such as AAA School Safety patrol members, crossing guards, bicycles and playgrounds.
    Obey Traffic Signs – Unfortunately, many motorists violate stop signs in school zones and residential neighborhoods –many failing to come to a complete stop, rolling through a stop sign or not slowing down at all
    Always Stop for School Buses – Flashing yellow lights on a school bus indicate it is preparing to stop to load or unload children and motorists should slow down and prepare to stop. Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on and off. Motorists are required to stop their vehicles and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.

Tips for Parents and Students:

    Teach children the importance of using crosswalks and how to look left-right-left before crossing.
    Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is not a sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
    Try to drop children off where they won’t have to cross the street to reach their destinations. Avoid the dangers of jaywalking and encourage kids to always cross in clear view of traffic, never from between parked cars.
    Just as you wouldn’t text and drive – don’t text and walk. Stay alert to your surroundings.

If Your Child Rides a Bike to School:

    Make sure your child has the skills to ride a bike safely, such as riding in a straight line and signaling to vehicles when turning.
    Choose the safest route to bike to school – one with less traffic and slower speeds. Use bike paths if they are available.
    Make sure your cyclists understand traffic safety rules, such as riding in the same direction as traffic and stopping at all stop signs and signals.
    Explain the importance of wearing a bike helmet to your child. They’re critical to minimizing injury in case of a crash. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, wearing a helmet can reduce the odds of head injury by half.
    Ride focused and alert. Never use earbuds or electronics while riding.