As Fairfax County children head back to school this week, drivers are reminded to be especially vigilant.
"The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous for walking children," according to AAA, the a not-for-profit organization providing members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive services and information. "Over the last decade, nearly one-third of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 and 7 p.m," the organization reported.
AAA offers six ways drivers can help keep kids safe during the school year:
- "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.
- "Eliminate distractions. Children often cross the road unexpectedly and may emerge suddenly between two parked cars. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
- "Reverse responsibly. Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, driveway and around your vehicle before slowly backing up. Teach your children to never play in, under or around vehicles—even those that are parked.
- "Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and more than one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 to 7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at TeenDriving.AAA.com.
- "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.
- "Watch for bicycles. Children on bikes are often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and the bicycle. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that they wear a properly-fitted bicycle helmet on every ride. Find videos, expert advice and safety tips at ShareTheRoad.AAA.com."