Back to school: These hours are the deadliest for child pedestrians
As more than 1 million New Jersey students head back to school this week, motorists will be sharing the roads with school buses, pedestrians and children riding bicycles.
The last thing on a child's mind is traffic safety so it's up to motorists to be vigilant especially in the first couple of days of school, when traffic is heavier and people are getting into new routines, AAA Mid-Atlantic Spokeswoman Tracy Noble said. The group is promoting its "School's Open: Drive Carefully"
She says it's very important for motorists to keep track of time. Make sure you know where you have to be and when, and be aware of the time of day you're on the road. AAA says more school-aged pedestrians are killed from 7 to 8 a.m. and from 3 to 4 p.m. than any other hours of the day.
Make sure you scan between parked cars.
"Unfortunately, a lot of children are not thinking traffic safety. They're excited. They can be darting out in between parked cars," Noble said.
She also advises motorists to slow down, obey traffic signs and always stop for school buses. Flashing yellow lights on a school bus indicate it is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and kids are getting on or off.
Noble has a few tips for parents: She says it's important to teach children the importance of using crosswalks. Make sure they know how to look both ways before crossing a street by using the look-left-right-then-left-again method.
Parents and children should always walk on a sidewalk, and if there isn't one, Noble said, walk facing traffic. If you're dropping a child off in a spot, make sure it's a spot where the child does not have to cross the road. And of course, if a child is riding a school bus, he or she should always be buckled up and should not do things that will distract the bus driver.
Some children like to ride their bicycles to school. Noble said the most important thing is to make sure your child has the skills to ride a bike safely, such as riding in a straight line. Kids should choose the safest routes to school, avoiding ones with a lot of traffic. Use bike paths if possible.
Children should "know hand signals so when they're turning and they should check to make sure they get off their bicycle in a crosswalk and walk their bicycle across the street," Noble said.
In general, motorists really need to keep their eyes open in and around neighborhoods and school zones. Make sure to slow down below normal speed limits so that everyone can get to their destinations safely.
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