How to be Safe During Back-to-School Month

If you’ve been running late in the mornings and banking on light traffic, you might need to rethink your game plan.

With students preparing to head back to school this month, drivers need to be aware of increased traffic on the roads. Slow down and stay alert, especially during the morning and afternoon hours when children are arriving at or leaving school.

Pedestrian fatalities are rising nationwide. And in Ohio, pedestrian fatalities have been steadily increasing since 2013, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). Last year the number of pedestrian fatalities soared to 144.

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. Thursday and Friday also prove especially dangerous.

4 Tips to Keep Students Safe:

For 72 years, AAA has been dedicated to helping reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities through the School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign. AAA created this awareness campaign in 1946 to curb a trend of unsafe driving behavior in school zones and neighborhoods. The campaign continues today by reminding motorists to remember the following:

  • Slow down: A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 25 mph is about two-thirds less likely to be killed than a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 35 mph. A difference of 10 mph can save a life.
  • Eliminate distractions: Children on foot or bicycle are unpredictable. They may cross the road unexpectedly or emerge suddenly between parked cars. Research shows that looking away from the road for two seconds doubles your crash risk.
  • Come to a complete stop: More than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods.
  • Plan Ahead: Traffic is heavier once school is back in session. Drivers should give themselves extra time by leaving early or modifying their routes to avoid school zones and traffic. Remember, driving around a stopped school bus is dangerous and illegal.

Students helping students

In its 98th year, thousands of student AAA School Safety Patrollers will work to keep their classmates safe at schools throughout the state and across the country.

“Student volunteers assist their classmates at crossings, carpool areas and bus loading and unloading zones,” said AAA Ohio’s Traffic Safety Program Manager Kellie O’Riordan. “Patrollers do not direct traffic, but they do help students understand when it is safe to enter roadways.”

Spotting a AAA School Safety Patrol student or an adult crossing guard is a sign that child pedestrians are nearby, and motorists should slow down.

Find more back to school safety tips at AAA.com/SchoolsOpen.