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Motorists, pedestrians urged to stay safe as school years start

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Logan County schools will start the new academic year next week and with it will come an increase in bus, motor vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, one-fifth of all children 14 years old and younger, who die in motor vehicle crashes, are pedestrians. The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous for walking children, as one-third of child pedestrian fatalities occur between 3 and 7 p.m.

Since 1946 AAA has been dedicated to helping reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities with the School’s Open — Drive Carefully campaign. AAA offers the following safety tips for motorists:

• Slow down — A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 20 mph is about two-thirds less likely to be killed than a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 30 mph, according to research by the AAA foundation for Traffic Safety.

• Eliminate distractions — Cell phones, eating, drinking and screaming children are just some of the distractions motorists face in school zones. It is important that motorists pay attention and focus on the road when school is in session.

• Come to a complete stop — Studies show that more than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods.

• Watch for bikes — Children on bicycles are often unpredictable; expect the unexpected.

• Brake for buses — Motorists in a hurry may be tempted to zoom around a stopped school bus; it’s dangerous and against the law.

• Plan ahead — Traffic is heavier once school is back in session. Drivers should give themselves extra time by leaving early or modifying their routes to avoid school zones.

Congestion in school zones makes it difficult for drivers and children to see each other. This increases the likelihood of collisions. 

Parents can help keep their children safe by teaching them the following safe walking habits:

• go directly to and from school or the bus stop;

• cross at corners and use crosswalks;

• cooperate with police, school safety patrols and adult crossing guards;

• look in all directions for approaching vehicles before crossing the street;

• watch for vehicles that might turn;

• obey all traffic signals;

• walk across streets by allowing for plenty of time;

• if you must walk on roads that have no sidewalks, walk facing the traffic and as far from the roadway surface as possible.

• be extra alert in bad weather as drivers have trouble seeing and stopping; and

• if you must walk after dark, wear reflective or light-colored clothing and carry a flashlight.

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