Now that school is back in session automobile safety should be a priority for parents, caregivers and all road users. Because of their small size children are especially vulnerable to being seriously hurt or killed in a traffic crash, and young drivers are more likely than more seasoned drivers to cause an accident.
The Automobile Association of America (AAA) sponsors an annual “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” campaign aimed at helping motorists keep children safe as they return to school each year. This year they’ve offered ten great tips for how to keep children safe. Consider this advice as you buckle up and hit the road in Virginia and North Carolina this school year.
- Ease off the accelerator. Children have a bad habit of darting in front of cars, making it important for drivers to slow down and remain vigilant in school zone or residential neighborhoods where children may be walking. Many motorists ignore the slower than normal posted speed limits before and after school hours, endangering children.
- Pay attention. Close behind slowing down is the advice to pay attention, for the same reason: you must be vigilant for children who may dart out in front of your car. Please avoid engaging in any distracted driving behavior like talking on your cell phone, texting, eating behind the wheel, etc. when driving near kids.
- Look for traffic signs. You should always be vigilant for traffic signs (warnings, speed limits, and the like) but this is especially important around children. Again, avoid driving while distracted and keep your eyes open for speed limit signs, stop signs and other warning signs – and obey them (this means no rolling stops).
- Look out for children. Just as you should pay attention to road signs, you should also be on the lookout for school children. Kids are likely to be found near a school zone, in residential areas, near crossing guards and playgrounds. You should always be vigilant while driving, but it is especially important to pay attention when kids are present.
- STOP for school buses. This one may seem obvious, but it is worth reminding impatient motorists that it is the law to stop for school buses when their lights are flashing and their stop sign is extended. Getting on and off the bus is a very risky activity for school kids because motorists don’t always obey the law.
- Plan for a longer commute. One reason that people become impatient in school zones or behind school buses is that they forget to add extra time to their trip when school starts up every year. Avoid the temptation to speed or ‘beat the school bus’ by giving yourself extra time to get where you need to be in the morning and afternoon when school children are out.
- Be alert around parked cars. About 40 percent of child pedestrian deaths happen between 4 and 8 pm. Many of these fatalities occur at non-intersection points along a road, because children don’t always follow the rules and enter the roadway at designated crossing points. Pay special attention to residential areas or roads with parked cars, because children can pop out from between two cars with little or no warning.
- Change your driving route. One way to avoid the risks of traveling in a school zone or an area with a large number of children is to change your driving route. You may have to drive a little further to avoid a school area, but it could save you time – and reduce your frustration.
- Turn on your headlights. Use your daytime running lights or your headlights when driving during the school year. This will make it easier for kids and other motorists to see you, even in broad daylight.
- Watch out in bad weather. Inclement weather can make driving dangerous. If there is snow, fog, rain, sleet or any other dangerous weather condition during your drive – slow down and pay attention. It is harder for you to see school children – and harder for them to see you.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a Virginia or North Carolina car or truck accident, please contact the personal injury attorneys at Tavss Fletcher.
555 East Main Street, 14th Floor
Norfolk, VA 23510
Telephone: (757) 625-1214
Facsimile: (757) 622-7295