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08-30-2007 - AAA Urges Motorists To Practice Extreme Caution While Driving Around Schools and Neighborhoods

AAA Encourages Motorists to...

Slow Down in School Zones

Often, parents can become distracted by excited children and trying to get to work on time. This may cause some drivers not to be focused on basic traffic safety practices. Many kids have difficulty judging traffic speed and distance, so drivers must be responsible and raise their awareness in school zones and neighborhoods.

One-fifth of all children 14 years of age and younger who die in motor vehicle crashes are pedestrians, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These pedestrian fatalities are more likely to happen in the afternoon hours, when school is letting out.

AAA's School's Open -- Drive Carefully annual campaign encourages motorists to stay alert in areas where children are present, paying special attention during the morning and afternoon hours while children are coming to and from school. School-age children can be especially vulnerable in areas with heavy traffic volume, parked vehicles on the street, higher posted speed limits, and few pedestrian-control devices.

AAA offers drivers these tips on how to be more vigilant on the road:

    --  Slow down in or near school and residential areas, and be sure to come
        to a complete stop at all intersections.
    --  Drive with your headlights on, even during the day, so children and
        other drivers can see you.
    --  Look for clues such as AAA School Safety Patrol members, crossing
        guards, bicycles, and playgrounds, which indicate children could be in
        the area.
    --  Scan between parked cars and other objects for signs that children
        could dart into the road.
    --  Obey the law by always stopping for school buses that are loading and
        unloading students.

Walking or biking to school can be a safe and healthy alternative to driving. Parents can use the morning walk to school to cut back on fuel expenses and start the day with extra family time.

AAA recommends these tips for pedestrians and cyclists en route to school:

    -- Cross streets at marked crosswalks and intersections when pedestrian signals indicate safe crossing.
    -- Walk facing traffic when walking on or near a roadway. When cycling, ride with the flow of traffic. Never assume that a driver will see you and stop.
    -- Follow instructions from AAA School Safety Patrol members and adult cross guards.
    -- Wear light colored or reflective clothing, especially when visibility is reduced.
    -- Avoid distractions such as cell phones and headphones to ensure awareness of one's surroundings.
    -- Bikers should be familiar with traffic laws, as cyclists must follow the same laws as motor vehicles.

In addition to being a safe alternative, parents can cut fuel costs. Parents who drive only one mile each way to their child's school spend $220 per school year in driving expenses, according to AAA's annual driving cost estimates.

No matter how people are getting their children to school, safety should be the number one priority. Drivers and pedestrians alike should always be aware of their surroundings, but especially around school zones.

Remember, School's Open
Drive Carefully!

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