AAA shares school zone safety tips to keep drivers, pedestrians, bicyclist safe ahead of school year

AAA survey shows drivers admit to risky behaviors in school zones

Students onboarding buses after school (AAA)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With children heading back to school, the highways and byways will become more crowded with buses, bicyclists and pedestrians filling the roads during the morning and afternoon hours.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported an average of three children are killed per day in traffic crashes. Crash data from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles said last year in Florida, 302 children pedestrians were killed and more than 10,000 were injured. Additionally, 82 children were killed and more than 9,000 were injured while riding their bicycles.

In a recent AAA back-to-school survey, 38% of drivers admitted to speeding in an active school zone and 32% admitted to using their cell phones while driving in an active school zone.

“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,” Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesperson said. “Remember, in Florida it is illegal to use your handheld mobile device while driving through an active school zone.”

AAA has provided several tips to keep students heading to school, drivers on their daily commute and bicyclist traveling the streets safe.

Safety Tips For Drivers

  • Slow down: Pay attention to the school zone speed limits. 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.
  • 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 occur during after-school hours. You can find evidence-based guidance at TeenDriving.AAA.com.

Top AAA Safety Tips for Students

AAA also recommends pedestrians eliminate all distractions such as texting or wearing headphones to pay attention to their surroundings, use sidewalks and wear visible wearing bright-colored clothing.

Bicyclists, according to AAA, should wear a helmet and bright-colored clothing, ride in the same direction as traffic, use bike lanes when accessible, cross the street at intersections and avoid wearing headphones while riding.

If you’re a student waiting at a bus stop, AAA advises you to arrive at least five minutes before the bus, stay five steps away from the curb, be alert and remove all distractions so you can hear oncoming traffic and wait until the bus comes to a complete stop before boarding the bus.

School Bus Traffic Law Reminders

AAA encourages drivers to remember and adhere to school bus traffic laws.

Motorists are required to stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and STOP arms extended. The only exception is on a divided highway with a raised divider:

  • Two Lane StreetAll drivers moving in either direction on a two-way street must stop for a school bus displaying a stop signal, and must remain stopped until the road is clear of children AND the school bus stop arm is withdrawn.
  • Multi-Lane Paved MedianAll drivers moving in either direction must stop for a school bus displaying a stop signal, and must remain stopped until the road is clear of children AND the school bus stop arm is withdrawn.
  • Divided HighwayTraffic approaching an oncoming school bus does not need to stop if there is a raised barrier such as a concrete divider or at least five feet of unpaved space separating the lanes of traffic. However, these motorists should slow down and watch for students loading or unloading from the bus.

About the Author:

As a proud alumnus of Bethune-Cookman University and Georgia Southern University, Kendra is a Jacksonville native, who loves all things lifestyle and working out when she's not navigating the digital world.