AAA offers important advice for families to keep kids safe this school year
PRESS RELEASE – As students get ready to head back to in-person learning this school year, drivers should be ready for increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic, especially in neighborhoods and school zones. With deadly pedestrian crashes on the rise nationwide, AAA urges drivers and students to work together to help curb tragedies.
“Be ready for extra traffic in the coming weeks,” said Kellie O’Riordan, Traffic Safety program manager for AAA Ohio Auto Club. “It’s important to plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time, so you are not rushing through neighborhoods and school zones.”
Pedestrian Deaths on the Rise:
Pedestrian fatalities jumped 55% nationally (49% in Ohio) in just one decade (2009-2018), according to recent research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The startling jump in deaths came after three decades of decreases in pedestrian deaths.
In Ohio, 166 pedestrians died last year from traffic crashes, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). This is nearly 19% higher than the five-year average (2016-2020).
Young pedestrians are not immune. During the past five years, ODOT says 4,568 crashes involving pedestrians 18 years old or younger occurred in Ohio (about 914 each year). These resulted in 126 young pedestrian deaths, including 32 killed in 2020.
Students going to and from school are especially at risk, as ODOT data shows young pedestrian crashes spike in the morning and afternoon, with 3 p.m. standing out as the peak time for crashes involving pedestrians 18 years old and younger. Thursdays and Fridays also prove especially dangerous.
Safety Tips for Drivers:
Since 1946, AAA has been dedicated to helping reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities with the School’s Open, Drive Carefully campaign. Through this campaign, AAA urges drivers to:
- Slow down: Speeding has become a major issue on Ohio’s roads. As vehicle and pedestrian traffic increases, it’s even more important to slow down and obey neighborhood and school zone speed limits. Just 10 mph can mean the difference between life and death for a pedestrian struck by a vehicle.
- Eliminate distractions: Children on foot or bicycle are often unpredictable and may cross the road unexpectedly, or emerge suddenly between two parked cars. It’s important to pay attention at all times, especially in school zones and neighborhoods.
- Obey all school zone signs, signals and markings. These are in place for everyone’s safety. Ignoring them could lead to traffic citations or worse.
- Plan ahead: Expect extra traffic in areas where school will be in session. Leave early or modify routes to avoid school zones and bus stops. Remember, driving around a stopped school bus is dangerous and illegal.
- Buckle up: Buckling up is the most important safety measure you can take to protect yourself in a crash. Also remember to use appropriate child safety seats and booster seats when transporting children.
- Look for AAA School Safety Patrollers and Crossing Guards: Since 1920, AAA School Safety Patrollers have worked at schools across the country to keep their classmates safe. Today, more than 679,000 Patrollers in about 35,000 schools volunteer their time to help their peers get on and off buses and walk to and from school safely. (Note: Local participating schools and advisor contacts are available upon request. Video footage for media use is available here.)
More information on AAA’s School’s Open, Drive Carefully campaign — including tips for parents — is available at AAA.com/SchoolsOpen.
AAA provides 62 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial-, and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.