TAMPA, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - As over 55 million students across the United States get ready to start the 2017-18 school year, AAA urges motorists to slow down and stay alert in neighborhoods and school zones.
With new schedules starting once again for many families, it's critical to be aware of increased child pedestrian activity before -and after-school hours. The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous for children who are walking. Over the last decade, nearly one-third of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 and 7 p.m.
According to the most recent data from 2015, more than 343 child pedestrians died and 11,000 were injured nationwide according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Florida had 36 child pedestrian fatalities ranking 2nd nationally behind California at 46.
Here are several recommendations from AAA regarding ways drivers can help to keep children safe:
- Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
- Come to a complete stop. Research shows that more than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop, checking carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.
- Eliminate distractions. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing. Children can move quickly; crossing the road unexpectedly or emerging suddenly between two parked cars. Reduce risk by not using your cell phone or eating while driving, for example.
- Reverse responsibly. Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, in the driveway and around your vehicle before slowly backing up. Teach your children to never play in, under or around vehicles.
- Watch for bicycles. Children on bicycles are often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that he or she wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride.
- Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Information via the AAA Foundation.