Child Pedestrian Deaths Spike During After-School Hours
The summer is drawing to a close and school children across New Jersey and the rest of the nation are heading back to the classroom. Every year at this time, more and more children are on the roads and sidewalks either walking or biking to school.
AAA New Jersey is warning drivers to be especially vigilant during before and after-school hours. Over the last decade, nearly one-third of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 and 7 p.m.
"More than 1,200 children lost their lives during after-school hours between 2000 ad 2010," said Cathleen Lewis, Director of Public Affairs for AAA New Jersey Automobile Club. "Although we have seen a steady decrease in the number of tragedies each year, it's important to remember that one death is one too many."
First and foremost, slow down. "A pedestrian who's struck by a vehicle that's going 25 miles an hour is two-thirds less likely to be killed than if he or she is hit by a car that's going just ten miles more. So, it's very important to keep your speed down," said Lewis. "Put your cell phone away and keep your eyes and your mind on the road at all times. Children often come out from between parked cars when they're crossing the street to get to a school bus or right after the school bus has dropped them off. So, it's especially important to be extra vigilant during those before and after-school hours."
Reverse responsibly. "Every vehicle has a blind spot, so make sure when you're reversing you double check," said Lewis. "We often don't think about our blind spots as much because we have so much technology that allows us to have smaller blind spots."
"If you have a teen driver, talk to them as well," said Lewis. "Those hours right after school are some of the most dangerous. Make sure that you've talked to them about the rules of the road, the responsibility that they have with they keys and also reinforce the messages about what happens when school children are out in the roadways either on foot or on bicycle. Also, make sure you're kids know the rules about bicycles. Make sure they're always wearing a helmet, make sure they're looking out for cars as well."
"Also, everyone needs to keep in mind that it will begin to get darker earlier and kids will be staying out longer hours because they can't get out and ride their bikes in the middle of the day anymore because they're in school. So, just make sure you're keeping your eyes open and that they are as well," said Lewis.