As Florida students begin the school year - in one form or another (virtual/classroom) - AAA is urging motorists to slow down and stay alert in both neighborhoods and school zones.
“This pandemic could create risky conditions on the roadway,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – the Auto Club Group. “Schools are reopening in different phases and drivers may be unsure of where they’ll encounter students. Regardless, AAA urges drivers to be extremely cautious around school zones and bus stops. You should also treat neighborhoods like school zones, as students doing virtual classes could be outside at various times throughout the day.”
- 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.
- Follow the law. Florida drivers can be cited for using their handheld device while driving through a designated school crossing or active school zone. Violators commit a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation, that includes a base $60 fine, not including court costs or other fees, and will have 3 points assessed against the driver license.
- Watch for school buses. Motorists are required to stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and STOP arms extended. (See the different situations in the diagram below).
- 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. Find videos, expert advice and safety tips at ShareTheRoad.AAA.com.
- 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 occurs during the after-school hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at TeenDriving.AAA.com.
Crash Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Between 2008 and 2017:
- 1,241 people were killed in school-transportation-related crashes — an average of 124 fatalities per year.
- Twenty-one percent (264) of these fatalities were of school-age children (18 and younger).
- Occupants of school transportation vehicles accounted for 10 percent of the fatalities.
- Non-occupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, etc.) accounted for 20 percent of the fatalities.
- Most (70%) of the people who lost their lives in these crashes were occupants of the other vehicles involved.
- 97 school-age pedestrians died in school-transportation-related crashes.
- Fifty-five percent were struck by school buses, 1 percent by vehicles functioning as school buses, and 44 percent by other vehicles (passenger cars, light trucks and vans, large trucks, and motorcycles, etc.) involved in the crashes.
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America with more than 14 million members across 14 U.S. states, the province of Quebec and two U.S. territories. ACG and its affiliates provide members with roadside assistance, insurance products, banking and financial services, travel offerings and more. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 60 million members in the United States and Canada. AAA’s mission is to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve traffic safety. For more information, get the AAA Mobile app, visit AAA.com, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.