Back to school: 10 ways to keep students, pedestrians and motorists safe

September 3, 2014

By Staff

NEW — 6 a.m. Sept. 3, 2014

As the new school year begins today in the Issaquah School District, AAA Washington urges drivers to be aware and extra cautious when traveling in school zones, backing out of driveways and navigating through parking lots and neighborhoods.

More than 1.1 million students in Washington state are preparing for back to school, which brings an increase in child pedestrian activity in and around roadways, especially during morning and afternoon hours.

In the Issaquah district, 135 buses travel more than 1.2 million miles and provide rides to and from schools and school-related activities to more than 8,000 students.

Nearly 500 school-aged children (ages 5-18) are killed each year during school travel while occupants of passenger vehicles, in addition to the 75 school-age pedestrians that are killed each year while traveling to and from school, according to the NHTSA.

Top 10 back-to-school safety tips from AAA:

Slow down. Obey Washington’s 20 mph speed limit in school zones. 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, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Keep your eyes on the road. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles the chance of being involved in a crash.

Come to a complete stop. More than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop before proceeding.

Reverse responsibly. Check for children on the sidewalk, in driveways and around your vehicle before slowly backing up.

Respect crossing zones: More than 22,000 students in Washington state volunteer as AAA School Safety Patrollers to protect their fellow classmates during school travel. Be mindful near crossing zones and make eye contact with patrollers to ensure maximum safety.

Watch for bicycles. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist. Expert advice, videos and safety tips are available here.

Eliminate distractions: Eliminate dangerous distractions that can increase your risk of being involved in a crash. Store cellphones out of reach — no texting, calling or emailing while driving.

Talk to your teen: According to the NHTSA, 74 percent of fatalities during school travel hours are crashes involving teen drivers.

Plan for extra time. Drive slowly and choose alternate routes to avoid school zones if possible, or plan ahead and allow for extra travel time if needed.

Practice: Knowledge and practice of safe walking and biking around traffic is essential. Choose safe walking and bicycling routes, and demonstrate the rules of the road with your children before school starts.

School zone safety tips can be found on AAA’s “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” page.

“Parents have a great influence on their child’s safe walking, biking and driving behaviors,” Jennifer Cook, of AAA Washington, said in a news release. “As families prepare for the upcoming school year, we encourage parents to talk about the importance of school zone safety with their children and teen drivers.”

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