FLORHAM PARK–In a few weeks, the lazy days of summer will end and a new school year will begin. Back-to-school season means increased child pedestrian activity and traffic congestion in and around neighborhoods and school zones. AAA urges drivers to be especially cautious and alert during the morning and afternoon hours.
Launched in 1946 to help reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities, AAA’s “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” campaign encourages motorists to stay alert in areas where children are present, particularly during the times right before and right after school, when children are most likely to be nearby. Motorists should be on the lookout for children who may dart into the street near school zones, playgrounds, bus stops and in neighborhoods. School-age children can be especially vulnerable in areas with heavy traffic volume, vehicles parked on the street, higher posted speed limits and few pedestrian-control devices.
The AAA New Jersey Automobile Club offers the following advice for motorists to keep children safe as they navigate their way through school zones:
- Obey the speed limit. School zone speed limits are purposefully set low. Children are unpredictable and may have difficulty gauging the distance and speed of an approaching car.
- Look for clues. Crossing guards and AAA School Safety Patrollers near intersections are a sure sign that you’re approaching a school zone.
- Come to a complete stop. Research shows that more than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods.
- Always stop for loading or unloading school buses. It may be tempting to drive around stopped school buses. It’s not only dangerous, but against the law.
- Drive distraction-free. AAA research shows that taking your eyes off the road for two seconds doubles your chance of crashing. Putting down your phone makes you a safer driver and sets a good example for young passengers and pedestrians.
- Plan ahead. Leave early for your destination and build in extra time for congestion–this will help you avoid the temptation to speed or disobey traffic laws in an attempt to “catch up” after being delayed. Consider modifying your route to avoid school zones and traffic.
The AAA New Jersey Automobile Club, headquartered in Florham Park, provides automotive, travel, insurance, financial and educational services to residents of Essex, Morris and Union Counties. Visit AAA online at AAA.com.
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