It's that time of year again for schools bells, backpacks, and yellow buses. Most importantly, it's a time when children are on our roads and sidewalks, eager to get to school. This is an exciting time for both children and parents, and we can all help to assure them a safe start to the school year.
Drivers need to be extra cautious now that summer has come to an end. Thousands of children will be waiting at school bus stops or walking and biking to school, often at dawn when it can be particularly hard to see them. Statistics show that one-fifth of all children age 14 and under who die in motor vehicle crashes are pedestrians. Many of these fatalities are children who run across the street, not paying attention to oncoming vehicles.
Children are at a disadvantage because they are less visible to motorists. Children are also less capable than adults of judging where and when it's safe to cross the street and less likely to fully understand the consequences of their potential misjudgments. Motorists need to keep this in mind and pay extra attention so that we can keep the children safe, not only in these first few critical weeks, but throughout the entire school year.
AAA Auto Club South will be carrying out its annual "School's Open - Drive Carefully" educational campaign throughout the months of August and September and AAA School Safety Patrol members will be on full alert at schools for dangerous situations. We ask that all motorists be on full alert too. The best protection to avoid a fatal mistake is for drivers to slow down. Every mile per hour you reduce your speed allows for greater reaction time. This could be the difference between life and death for a child that unexpectedly darts across the street. And that child could be yours!
Whether it's the beginning, middle, or end of the year, always remember, "School's Open - Drive Carefully."
Sojeila Orengo, Manager of Traffic Safety Programs
AAA Auto Club South