School’s open, drive carefully

October 29, 2013

By Staff

In 2011, 521 pedestrians ages 0-19 were injured in collisions and seven were killed in Washington, according to state Department of Transportation data.

Now that fall is here, more than 1.1 million Washington children are enrolled in school and back in the classroom. AAA urges drivers to be aware of increased child pedestrian activity and to be extra cautious when backing out of driveways and parking spots in school zones and neighborhoods, especially during the morning and afternoon hours.

“As schools become more active with children, it is critical that drivers take extra precaution and adhere to the 20-mile-per-hour speed limit in school zones,” said Jennifer Cook, senior manager of Corporate Communications at AAA Washington. “The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous, with more than one-fourth of child pedestrian fatalities occurring between 3 and 7 p.m. during the last decade.”

As the start of a new school year begins, follow these four tips:

Slow down. Obey Washington state’s 20 mph speed limit in school zones. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a pedestrian is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed when struck by a vehicle traveling at 20 mph compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 30 mph.

Eliminate distractions. Sometimes kids dart into the road unexpectedly. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles the chance of crashing. Avoid this risk by storing cellphones out of reach to limit texting, calling or emailing while driving.

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 and check for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.

Plan for extra time. With school in session, there are more child pedestrians and children riding bicycles on streets and sidewalks. Drive slowly and choose alternate routes to avoid school zones if possible.

Get more school zone driving tips at

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