AAA urges motorists to be cautious as school is back in session

Published 10:47 am Monday, August 17, 2020

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As students across the Carolinas begin the school year, whether virtually or in the classroom, AAA is urging motorists to slow down and pay special attention in neighborhoods and school zones.

“Because of the pandemic, schools are reopening under different plans and phases,” said Tiffany Wright, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group in the Carolinas. “Drivers aren’t sure where exactly they’ll encounter students, so it’s important to be extra vigilant and treat neighborhoods as school zones, as many are doing virtual learning and could be outside during various times throughout the day.”

In an effort to prevent tragedies and help communities improve neighborhood and school safety, AAA has provided tips to abide by in these areas.

Driver Tips from AAA – The Auto Club Group’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign include:

• 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 the risk by not using your cell phone or eating while driving, for example.

• 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.

• 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

• 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. and 7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at

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 fatalities.
Non-occupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, etc.) accounted for 20 percent of fatalities.
Most (70 percent) 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, motorcycles, etc.) involved in the crashes.

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