In 2011, 521 pedestrians ages 0-19 were injured in collisions and seven were killed in Washington, according to WSDOT data. As summer draws to a close, more than 1.1 million Washington children are getting ready to head back to the classroom. AAA urges drivers to be aware of increased child pedestrian activity and to be extra cautious when backing out of driveways and parking spots in school zones and neighborhoods, especially during the morning and afternoon hours.
"As schools become more active with children, it is critical that drivers take extra precaution and adhere to the 20 mile-per-hour speed limit in school zones," said Jennifer Cook, senior manager of Corporate Communications at AAA Washington. "The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous, with more than one-fourth of child pedestrian fatalities occurring between 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. during the last decade."
As the start of a new school year begins, AAA urges you to be on the lookout for AAA School Safety Patrollers-a clear sign that you are approaching a school zone, and to follow these four tips:
1. Slow down. Obey Washington State's 20 M.P.H. speed limit in school zones. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a pedestrian is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed when struck by a vehicle traveling at 20 M.P.H. compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 30 M.P.H.
2. Eliminate distractions. Sometimes kids dart into the road unexpectedly. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles the chance of crashing. Avoid this risk by storing cell phones out of reach to limit texting, calling or emailing while driving.
3. 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 and check for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.
4. Plan for extra time. With school in session there are more child pedestrians and children riding bicycles on streets and sidewalks. Drive slowly and choose alternate routes to avoid school zones if possible.
For more school zone driving tips, visit AAA's "School's Open - Drive Carefully" page at: http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/child-safety/schools-open-drive-carefully/ .
AAA Washington has been serving members and the traveling public since 1904. The organization provides a variety of exclusive benefits, including roadside assistance, discounts, maps and personalized trip planning, to its 1,065,000 members. In addition, its full-service travel and insurance agencies provide products and services for members and the public. Additional information is available through the company's offices in Washington and northern Idaho, at AAA.com<http://www.AAA.com>, or by calling 1-800-562-2582.