For students and their families, the transition from summer to fall can be bittersweet. As vacations come to an end, the excitement of a new school year begins.
Back-to-school also means an increase in car, bicycle and pedestrian traffic. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, children between 5 and 14 years old have the highest percentages of pedestrian injuries among all age categories.
Most deaths happen between 7 - 8 a.m. and 3 - 4 p.m., when children are going to and from school. However, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for children, who can be unpredictable. The following tips can keep the roads safer for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians:
- Be on high alert when entering a school zone, even on weekends and evenings. Slow down – whether you see children or not – and always obey speed limits, traffic signs and crossing guards in school zones.
- Avoid multitasking and distracted driving; never text and drive.
- If your children are under the age of 12, make sure they ride in the back seat. According to NHSTA, children in the front seat are 40 percent more likely to be injured in a car crash.
- Make sure infant and child car seats are properly installed. Car seats reduce the risk of death by 28 percent in the event of a crash, but three out of four car seats are installed incorrectly. Visit safeseats4kids.aaa.com for more safety facts, car seat guides, inspection information, car seat recalls and more.
- Be on alert for children getting on and off school buses and crossing the street outside of marked crosswalks. Maintain a safe distance behind buses and expect frequent stops.
- When carpooling, remind passengers that wearing seatbelts not only save lives, but is the law.
- Make sure your child has the skills to ride a bike safely, such as riding in a straight line and signaling to vehicles when turning.
- Choose the safest route to bike to school – one with less traffic and slower speeds. Use bike paths if they are available.
- Make sure your cyclists understand traffic safety rules, such as riding in the same direction as traffic and stopping at all stop signs and signals.
- Explain the importance of wearing a bike helmet to your child. They’re critical to minimizing injury in case of a crash. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, wearing a helmet can reduce the odds of head injury by half.
- Ride focused and alert. Never use earbuds or electronics while riding.
- Pedestrians age 10 and younger should generally be accompanied by an adult when walking to and from school. Teach children the importance of using crosswalks and how to look left-right-left before crossing.
- Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is not a sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
- Try to drop children off where they won’t have to cross the street to reach their destinations. Avoid the dangers of jaywalking and encourage kids to always cross in clear view of traffic, never from between parked cars.
- Just as you wouldn’t text and drive – don’t text and walk. Stay alert to your surroundings.
Make sure you have the right coverage to protect your family. For information about auto and home insurance, call your AAA insurance agent or insurance customer service, or visit your local branch.