To help motorists, bicyclists and young pedestrians stay safe as nearly 7 million California schoolchildren return to classrooms, the Automobile Club of Southern California is distributing more than 250,000 pieces of back to school traffic safety materials to schools, law enforcement and community groups including bike safety and helmet fitting tips for young riders.
The Auto Club also is offering these groups new “I GIVE 3 FT” bicycle safety tip cards that shine awareness on the new law effective Sept. 16 where motorists must legally give bicyclists three feet for passing on the road.
The traffic safety campaign tactics are part of AAA’s 79th annual “School’s Open—Drive Carefully campaign. The School’s Open campaign is designed to help boost traffic safety awareness in and around schools due to increased traffic congestion.
The Auto Club’s popular Halloween safety bookmarks and colorful pedestrian safety bookmarks continue to be available this fall as part of materials distributed across Southland schools.
Nationally, traffic collisions are the number one cause of death and injury for youngsters under age 15. Today, more parents drive students to school due to reduced or eliminated school bus service. These drivers mix with more commuters who use bikes and motorcycles to save gas. This results in a more complex and dangerous environment for all road users, according to the Auto Club.
“Late afternoon hours between 3 and 7 p.m. pose increased hazards for children walking to and from school or waiting at bus stops is due to more traffic congestion near campuses,” said the Auto Club’s Community Programs & and Traffic Safety Manager Anita Lorz Villagrana. “Drivers must watch for children walking or riding a bike and reduce their speeds in school zones.”
Traffic safety rules have changed significantly since today’s parents were children, said Lorz Villagrana. Mandatory seat belt laws, air bags, bike helmet requirements, texting and cell phone ban awareness as well as new, safer ways for crossing streets should be discussed with children, she added. Tell children to remove headphones and put away cell phones and other electronic devices so they can hear and see traffic when crossing the street, Lorz Villagrana added.
One-fifth of children under age 14 who die in motor vehicle crashes are pedestrians, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The fatalities are more likely to happen mid-afternoon, when school is letting out.
Schools and community groups can request an Auto Club Traffic Safety Materials Catalog which features available educational materials, community programs and safety initiatives by going to www.AAA.com/schoolsafety. To learn more about bike and pedestrian safety, please visit www.AAA.com/safetytips. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To help protect children, the Auto Club urges motorists to follow these safety tips:
- Drive without distractions. Don’t use cell phones, eat, apply make up, or shave.
- Drive slowly in and around school and residential areas. Pay extra attention near schools during the morning and afternoon hours.
- Obey school zone speed limit signs and come to a complete stop at all intersections.
- Always stop for school buses that are loading, or unloading students.
- Drive with headlights on so children and other drivers can see you.
- Scan between parked cars as children could dart into the street near school zones, playgrounds, bus stops and in neighborhoods.
Pedestrians should remember the following safety tips:
- Children under age 10 should not cross the street alone.
- Cross only at corners so drivers can see you.
- Always use a crosswalk when available. But remember that painted lines can’t stop cars.
- Remove headphones and put away cell phones and other electronic devices when crossing the street.
- Cross only on the new green light, so you have time to cross safely.
- Use the intersection walk/don’t walk push-button. Cross with the “walk” sign only.
- Look all ways before crossing, watching for cars that are turning.
- Never cross the street from between cars. Drivers can’t see you.
- If there’s no sidewalk, walk on left side of road, facing traffic, to see oncoming cars.
- Use a flashlight or wear something retro-reflective at night to help drivers see you.
Bicycle riders under age 18 must wear a helmet under state law and practice the following:
- Keep your bicycle in good mechanical condition.
- Use the safest route to your destination. Obey all traffic rules and signs.
- Walk your bike across busy intersections; don’t carry passengers.
- Be sure the road is clear before entering.
- Ride in the same direction as traffic in a single file.
- Watch for opening car doors.