August 23, 2011 |

Time to watch out for kids on their way back to school

As students across the United States get ready to start the 2011-2012 school year, AAA reminds motorists to be aware of increased child pedestrian activity and traffic congestion in and around neighborhoods and school zones.@

"School zone speed limits are in place to save lives," said J.J. Miller, AAA East Central safety advisor. "Motorists need to be especially vigilant during the morning and afternoon hours when school children are walking to and from school."@

"Concentrating on the road and avoiding distractions is the most important advice I could offer," said Ms. Miller. "Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for two seconds doubles your chances of crashing. Putting down your phone makes you a safer driver and sets a good example for young passengers and pedestrians," she added.@

AAA's School's Open – Drive Carefully campaign was launched in 1946 to help reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities.

AAA reminds Pennsylvania drivers that all vehicles must stop at least 10 feet upon meeting , from either direction, a school bus that is stopped for loading or unloading children and displays flashing lights and the stop signal arm. This rule does not apply if the bus is on the opposite roadway of a divided highway.

Additional advice for drivers:

• Follow the speed limit. School zone speed limits are purposefully set low. Children are unpredictable and may have difficulty gauging the distance and speed of an approaching car.

• Look for AAA School Safety Patrollers. With more than half a million AAA School Safety Patrollers at 30,000 schools across the country, they're a sure sign you're approaching a school zone.

• Come to a complete stop at intersections with stop signs. Research shows that more than one third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods.

• Always stop for loading or unloading school busses. It may be tempting to drive around stopped school busses, but not only is it dangerous, it's against the law.

• Plan Ahead. Leave early for your destination and build in extra time for congestion. Modify your route to avoid school zones and traffic.

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