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Keeping the Roads  Safe in School Zones

Now that school is back in session, it’s a good time to remind ourselves to drive with extra caution. A national survey by Safe Kids Worldwide found that two-thirds of motorists exceed the posted speed limit in school zones during the 30-minute periods before and after school. That doesn’t bode well for our little ones.

Kids are especially vulnerable because they’re small and less visible to motorists. They don’t have the skills to properly judge traffic behavior. And they become easily distracted, especially when they’re around their friends.

In short, kids are not adults, so motorists must go the extra mile to help protect them. AAA urges you to follow these basic safety rules:

  • Slow down near schools and in residential areas. Obey school-zone speed limits.
  • Stay focused. We all know that using a cell phone while driving is dangerous. But any behavior that takes your eyes off the road, such as eating or adjusting a radio, can be equally distracting.
  • Always stop for school buses that are loading or unloading students.
  • When driving near playgrounds or in school zones, scan between parked cars. Children may dart out into the street on a bicycle or to chase a ball.
  • Do not drop kids off at a location where they will have to cross a street.

Children at crosswalkIn addition, if you have school-age children, talk to them about traffic safety. Teach them to cross the street at corners and in crosswalks where drivers can see them more easily. Make sure they stop their bikes at street corners and stop signs.

Older children face an additional traffic hazard in this digital age: distracted walking–that is, engaging in behaviors such as texting or using social media apps on a smartphone while walking, which makes them oblivious to potential traffic dangers nearby. Remind your kids to always be aware of their surroundings.

Finally, if you have a teen driver, take some time to pass along these “school-zone safety” tips. More important, be a good role model behind the wheel, since teens tend to model their parents’ driving habits. Let’s all do our part to ensure our children’s safety on their way to and from school.

AAA is proud to provide valuable traffic-safety information to motorists, including free-loan safety videos for schools and community groups. To obtain these materials or for more information, visit and click on the news and safety tab.

Jim McGrath

September/October 2014 Issue

Jim McGrath

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