As the 2019-20 school year begins, AAA urges motorists to slow down and stay alert in neighborhoods and school zones. With new schedules starting once again for many families, it’s critical to be aware of increased child pedestrian activity before and after school hours.

AAA-The Auto Club Group, through its School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign, are reminding motorists that school season is underway and that it’s important to avoid distractions and use caution when driving near school zones, especially during drop-off and pick-up times.

“School zone speed limits are in place to slow motorists and help save lives, you can make a difference by staying alert and taking extra care while driving in areas where school children are present,” said Seth Andrews, Government & Public Relations Consultant for AAA-The Auto Club Group.

AAA offers the following six ways to keep kids safe this 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.

•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. Children can move quickly; crossing the road unexpectedly or emerging suddenly between two parked cars. Reduce risk by not using your cell phone or eating while driving, for example.

•Watch for school buses. Every state has a law making it illegal to pass a school bus with its red lights flashing and stop-arm extended that is stopped to load or unload students; however, some motorists simply choose to ignore the law. A brief description of your state law can be inserted by accessing State School Bus Laws taken from AAA’s Digest of Motor Laws.

•Share the road. 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. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that he or she wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride. Find videos, expert advice and safety tips at ShareTheRoad.AAA.com.

•Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at TeenDriving.AAA.com

“If parents and other drivers follow these simple rules when driving in and around schools zones, countless children can avoid injury and death,” continued Andrews. “It’s up to us to help all drivers become more aware of the risks of driving around our schools.”

AAA’s School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign was launched nationally in 1946 to help reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities; 73 years later, AAA clubs across the country continue to promote the campaign each fall to remind motorists to watch out for children as they travel to and from school.