It's that time of the year again, where the lunch boxes are packed, backpacks are filled and school-aged kids are walking to and from school.
But drivers and pedestrians alike should beware, as it’s a shared responsibility to keep roadways safe whether you’re on foot or behind the wheel.
Drivers should pay attention when driving on all roads, but more than ever with city streets being flooded with walkers. Morning drive times between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. are especially significant, as well as the after school times of 2:30 p.m. through dusk.
For drivers, failing to adhere to school zone speed limits of 25 miles per hour, blocking roadways, making illegal U-turns and failure to obey traffic signs could land you with a hefty ticket or worse, an injured child, officials warn.
Parents should also talk with their children before ushering them out the door. Officials warn that elementary school children are impulsive and still need guidance and share are a few tips the NHTSA shares with parents:
- Walk on the sidewalk, if one is available.
- Walk facing traffic if no sidewalk is available.
- Don’t assume vehicles will stop. Make eye contact with drivers.
- Don’t rely solely on pedestrian signals, look before you cross the road
- Be sure to let a crossing guard know that you are waiting to cross the street
When crossing the street:
- Cross at a corner or crosswalk with the walk signal.
- Stop at the curb.
- Exaggerate looking LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT for traffic in all directions before and while crossing the street. Explain you are looking for either no traffic or that traffic has stopped for you to cross safely.
- Hold your child’s hand when crossing the street.
- Cross when it is clear and keep looking for cars as you cross.
- Walk, don’t run or dart, into the street.
- Look for signs that a car is about to move (rear lights, exhaust smoke, sound of motor, wheels turning).
- Walk alertly; use your eyes and your ears to increase your safety.
In 2009, an estimated 59,000 pedestrians were injured, according to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration; 13,000 of those injured were age 14 and younger, and boys accounted for 55 percent, or 7,000, of those 13,000 hurt. The NHTSA finds that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children from three-to-14-years old.