FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|CONTACT:||Buel C. Young||MVA Media Relations|
AAA MID-ATLANTIC, MARYLAND MVA AND SHA OFFER TIPS TO CURB BACK-TO-SCHOOL TRAGEDIES
One-Third of Child Pedestrian Fatalities Occur During After-School Hours
TOWSON, MD (August 22, 2012) – As summer draws to a close and the classroom bell rings in the new school year, 55 million children across the United States will head back to school. With 13 percent of those school children typically walking or biking to school, AAA Mid-Atlantic, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration and State Highway Administration warn drivers to be especially vigilant for pedestrians during before- and after-school hours. The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous for walking children. Over the last decade, nearly one-third of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 and 7 p.m.
"More than 1,200 children lost their lives during these after-school hours between 2000 and 2010," cautioned Myra Wieman, Traffic Safety Manager, for AAA's Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Traffic Safety and Education, "and although we've seen a steady decrease in the number of tragedies each year, it's important to remember that one death is one too many."
"Motorists should pay close attention while in neighborhoods and designated school zones, especially in the mornings and afternoons when schools open and close," said Motor Vehicle Administrator John T. Kuo. "Most school transportation-related accidents occur while children are getting on or off a school bus which is why it is important for motorists to obey the law and come to a complete stop when meeting a stopped school bus or approaching one at an intersection with the red lights flashing and a stop arm extended."
State Highway Administrator Melinda B. Peters added, "The back to school season is an ideal time to review the rules of the road because if everyone stays alert, follows traffic laws and looks out for one another, tragedies can be prevented. As parents, we need to remind children to use crosswalks and always look left, right and left again before crossing."
Here are six ways to keep kids safe this school year:
- Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
- Eliminate distractions. Children often cross the road unexpectedly and may emerge suddenly between two parked cars. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
- 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.
- Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and more than one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 to 7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at http://www.aaa.com/TeenDriving.
- 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.
- 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.
AAA's School's Open – Drive Carefully awareness campaign was launched in 1946 in an effort to prevent school-related child pedestrian traffic crashes—helping kids to live fulfilling, injury-free lives.
In addition to the School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign, AAA has teamed up with Richard Scarry's Busytown Mysteries to help keep children safe. Download coloring pages, play games and watch car seat safety videos at SafeSeats4Kids.AAA.com
The Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education is a non-profit, 501(c)(3), tax-exempt corporation dedicated to educating, training and raising the level of traffic and travel safety awareness for all. Through your generous contributions the Foundation works to make schools, communities and roads a safer place for everyone by providing resources & education programs for children, teens, adults and seniors.
AAA Mid-Atlantic is based in Wilmington, Del., and serves nearly four million members in Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey with personal insurance, financial, automotive and travel services through 53 retail branches, regional operations centers and the Internet, at www.aaa.com/community.