As the new school year begins, AAA Northeast reminds both motorists and families that extra caution is needed as children make their way to school by walking and riding in areas where they weren’t seen over the summer.
The greatest risk to children isn’t when they’re riding the school bus; it’s approaching or leaving them. Between 2008 and 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports 264 school-age children were killed in school transportation-related crashes, primarily when they waited at bus stops or crossed streets before boarding or getting off school buses.
“Children can get caught up in the excitement of back to school time and might forget to look for cars even though motorists are required to yield and stop for school buses with activated lights,” said Mark Schieldrop, AAA Northeast Massachusetts spokesperson. “Drivers need to be aware—especially in school zones, near playgrounds and at bus stops—that kids might dart into streets.”
Through its annual School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign, AAA offers tips to drivers to keep children safe:
On the other hand, parents and guardians should teach school-aged children to:
AAA Northeast reminds drivers that flashing yellow lights on a school bus means slow down because the bus is preparing to stop. Red flashing lights means stop, including cars in the opposite lane on undivided roads. In Massachusetts, the law requires drivers to stop at least 100 feet behind a school bus and stay stopped until the bus light stops flashing, the extended stop-arm is retracted and the bus begins to move.
“Safe driving habits are important year-round, but extra diligence is required when children are heading to and from school,” Schieldrop added.
AAA Northeast is a not-for-profit auto club with 64 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and New York, providing more than 5.7 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.