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AAA Urges Drivers To Be Cautious As Kids Go Back To School

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School is now back in session in many districts and that means Michigan roads are more crowded. AAA says this time of year can be a bit more dangerous due to the combination of young inexperienced drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists. 

Drivers should have a heightened sense of awareness from the moment they leave the driveway,”

That’s Adrienne Woodland, spokeswoman for AAA – The Auto Club Group in Michigan. She says because children can move so quickly across the road and unexpectedly it’s important to scan the road and be ready to stop at a moment’s notice. She adds a new survey from AAA shows that many drivers admit to risky behaviors in school zones.

“37% admitted to speeding in an active school zone. And 27% admitted to using their hand-held cell phone while driving in active school zones. So these are definitely risky behaviors but especially while you’re in an active school zone.”

Woodland says drivers should look to make sure they are mindful of safety tips.

“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.”

In addition, drivers are encouraged to come to a complete stop, eliminate distractions and talk to your teen driver. More tips and information can be found at AAA.com

. “Expect more foot traffic in neighborhoods and along city streets. Since You can reduce risk of injury by slowing down and avoiding distractions like using your cell phone or eating while driving.”

A new survey from AAA reveals that many drivers admit to risky behaviors like speeding and using their handheld mobile phone while driving through a school zone.

According to a new survey of Michigan drivers:

“When driving through a school zone, it’s extremely important that you lower your speed and raise your awareness to ensure you can respond to any potential hazards on the roadway,” Woodland continued.

Top Safety Tips for Drivers

AAA – The Auto Club Group, through its School’s Open Drive Carefully campaign reminds motorists to:

  • 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.
  • Share the road with bicyclists. 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.
  • Talk to your teen. Car crashes are one of the leading causes 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. to 7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at TeenDriving.AAA.com.

Top AAA Safety Tips for Students

For Pedestrians

  • Pay attention at all times. Avoid texting or wearing headphones, so you can detect nearby traffic.  
  • Use sidewalks where available. If not, walk against the direction of traffic so you can see oncoming vehicles.
  • Make yourself easier to be seen by wearing reflective, bright colored clothing.

For Bicyclists

  • Wear a helmet and neon or bright colored clothes.
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic and stay as far to the right as possible. Use bike lanes when you can.
  • Do not wear headphones so you can detect approaching traffic.
  • Cross the street at intersections. Do not pull into the roadway from between parked cars.

For Students at the Bus Stop

  • Arrive at least 5 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
  • Stay five steps away from the curb.
  • Be alert and remove headphones so you can hear oncoming traffic.
  • Wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and the bus driver signals for you to board.

Michigan roads are about to get more crowded - and hazardous - as millions of students and teachers return to school. This time of year is particularly dangerous due to the combination of young inexperienced drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists who will all share the road in the early morning and afternoon hours.

Jennifer is an award winning broadcast news journalist with more than two decades of professional television news experience including the nation's fifth largest news market. She's worked as both news reporter and news anchor for television and radio in markets from Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo all the way to San Francisco, California.
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