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School's Open Drive Carefully

School's Open

The beginning of the school year is approaching with the fall season, and the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education and AAA urges motorists to stay alert and be cautious while children are traveling to and from school.

Children will be returning to school soon. Morning can be a dangerous time for children, as they travel to the bus stop, ride their bike to school or walk along their routine path. Afternoon introduces additional risks as the ring of the final bell marks the sound of freedom for school-age children. Unfortunately, children are often distracted by thoughts of playtime or are unable to accurately judge traffic situations while on their journey home.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a pedestrian struck by vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed as compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster. School zone speed limits are in place to save lives so motorists need to be especially vigilant during the morning and afternoon hours when school children are walking to and from school.

The Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education will present a variety of programs that emphasize safety and are supported by strategically placed posters, bumper strips and tip cards. "School Bus Safety" and "Parents: Avoid Becoming a Traffic Hazard" tip cards can be downloaded and distributed to your school community. Our hope is that by working actively with communities, we will prevail in our efforts to decrease child fatalities due to car crashes.

AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign was launched in 1946 to help reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities. In addition to slowing down, AAA and the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education offers the following advice for motorists to keep children safe as they navigate their way through school zones.

To get press-ready tip cards please click here to download and save to your computer (These are high resolution files and could take a few minutes to download depending on your connection speed):

Drivers Tips to Keep School Children Safe

  • Limit distractions such as cell phones, CD players or other devices that cause you to take your eyes off the road. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
  • Stay Alert and slow down in or near school and residential areas. Don’t rush into and out of driveways. Expect pedestrians on the sidewalk, especially around schools and in neighborhoods.
  • Stop at stop signs. It sounds obvious, but research shows that more than one third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods.
  • Look for clues such as School Safety Patrols, Adult Crossing Guards, bicycles, and playgrounds, which indicate children could be in the area.
  • Drive with your headlights on - even during the day - so children and other drivers can see you.
  • Always stop for school buses that are loading/unloading students.
  • Pay particular attention near schools during the morning and afternoon hours and plan ahead. Leave early for your destination and build extra time for congestion.
  • Practice extra caution in adverse weather conditions.

Safe Walking Tips for Children

  • Always obey Adult Crossing Guards and AAA School Safety Patrols.
  • Before crossing - look all ways.
  • Obey all traffic signals.
  • Use crosswalks and corners to cross the road.
  • Where there is no sidewalk and it is necessary to walk in the roadway, walk facing traffic and as far from the roadway as possible.
  • Avoid crossing between parked cars.
  • Watch for cars. Be sure that the way is clear before you cross.

For more information on your state’s laws, try the following websites/telephone:

Delaware - School Bus Safety
Distict of Columbia - School Bus Safety
Maryland - School Bus & School Zone Laws
New Jersey - New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission - School Bus Inspection Unit 609-633-9473
Pennsylvania - School Bus Stopping Laws
Virginia - School Bus Stopping Laws

Remember, school's open - drive carefully. You can make a difference just by staying alert and taking the extra care while driving where children are present.

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