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School is back in session

Schools are opening soon.

With the end of summer, some 55.4 million children are heading back to school across America.

The American Automobile Association reminds drivers to be aware of school zones and school bus safety. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 20 miles per hour is two-thirds less likely to be killed as compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 30 mph.

AAA notes that school zone speed limits save lives. Parents are encouraged to talk to their teenage drivers about the importance of school zone safety.

AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign was launched nationally in 1946 to help reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities. The campaign kicks off again each fall and continues throughout the school year to remind motorists to watch out for children as they travel to and from school. In addition to slowing down, AAA offers the following advice for motorists to keep children safe as they navigate their way through school zones:

•Ditch distractions. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for even two seconds doubles chances of crashing. Reduce risk by not using cell phones, eating, or practicing any other form of distracted driving.

•Stay alert. Don’t rush into and out of driveways. Expect pedestrians on the sidewalk, especially around schools and in neighborhoods. Also, remember that vehicles have blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, in the driveway, and around your vehicle before slowly backing up.

•Stop at stop signs. It sounds obvious, but research shows that more than one third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop and check carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.

•Watch for bikes. Children on bicycles are often unpredictable. Expect the unexpected. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist.

•Brake for buses. It may be tempting to drive around a stopped school bus, but not only is it dangerous, it’s against the law.

•Plan ahead. Leave early for your destination and build in extra time for congestion. If possible, modify your route to avoid school zones.


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