2008-08-28 / Education

AAA urges drivers to slow down, stay alert

As kids head back to school

Fifty-six million children across the country begin heading back to school this month, and AAA is urging motorists to slow down and stay alert in neighborhoods and school zones with its 75th annual "School's Open- Drive Carefully" campaign.

The campaign is intended to curb a trend of unsafe driving behavior in school zones and neighborhoods that can result in children's injury and sometimes death.

Pedestrian injury is the second leading cause of injuryrelated death in the United States for children ages five to 15, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 33,500 children were treated in emergency rooms for pedestrian-related injuries in 2005. Nearly half (45%) of vehicles observed in school zones and residential neighborhoods during a 2003 national observational survey did not come to a complete stop at stop signs; 37% rolled through a stop sign; and 7% did not even slow down.

Additionally, nearly a third of motorists violated stop signs when a child pedestrian was present, and two-thirds exceeded the posted speed limit during the 30-minutes before and after school.

AAA offers comprehensive lists of tips for motorists, parents and students on school zone, school bus, pedestrian and bicycle safety online at www.AAA.com/PublicAffairs.

Some of key tips for motorists on the site include:

• Slow down in or near school or residential areas, and be sure to come to a complete stop at all intersections.

• Look for clues such as AAA School Safety Patrol members, crossing guards, bicycles and playgrounds which indicate children could be in the area.

• Scan between parked cars and other objects for signs that children could dart into the road.

• Always stop for school buses that are loading and unloading students. It's the law.

• Leave a little early so you are not rushed as you travel to work or school.

• Drive with your headlights on- even during the day- so children and other drivers can see you.

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