AAA reminds St. Lawrence County drivers to watch for children as students head back to school
Thursday, September 4, 2014 - 8:51 am

AAA urging St. Lawrence County drivers to pay special attention on the road as school kids return to class

AAA is teaming up with state police for its “School’s Open – Drive Carefully” campaign as the back-to-school season in St. Lawrence County kicks off.

The campaign, first launched nationwide in 1946, reminds drivers to engage in safe behavior in school zones and residential neighborhoods in an effort to help reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

It alerts motorists to the special risks to school-age children from motor vehicle crashes, the leading cause of death for children from five to fourteen years old. The campaign begins Sept. 2, and runs through Oct. 15.

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico said, “Our Troopers are out on New York roadways each day, doing their part to keep our roads safe and to protect motorists from those breaking our laws. Traffic safety is about making our streets safe for everyone who travels them, including our children. The New York State Police are once partnering with AAA Clubs of New York State to make sure our kids make it to and from school safely. All drivers, parents, friends and citizens should be working with AAA and law enforcement by paying attention to walking children, school bus traffic and school zones.”

The increased hazards for youngsters are evident in statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and should not be understated. Research from AAA and NHTSA shows:

· More than a third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods.

· Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children age 4 and age 11 through 14.

· One-fifth of traffic fatalities in the 14 and younger age group are pedestrians.

· In the last decade, more than 25 percent of child pedestrian fatalities occurred after school, between 3 and 7 p.m.

‘Protecting our youngsters from unnecessary harm is of the highest importance to all of us. We often forget that this change in schedule for our kids should also involve a change in habits for drivers,” said Tony Spada, President and CEO of AAA Western and Central New York. “While children may not always remember to be safe at all times, your alertness may prevent a tragedy.”

To help protect children, AAA urges motorists to follow these safety tips:

· Avoid distractions – Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. Focus on where you’re going, not on electronic devices or in-car technologies.

· Take your time – Allow extra time for school zone traffic or adjust your route to avoid it.

· Stop at stop signs –Treat a stop sign as you would a red light—come to a complete stop every time.

· Slow down – Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A difference of 10 mph can save a life.

· Brake for buses – Passing a stopped school bus is dangerous and against the law, so don’t do it, AAA says.