New challenges, old hazards arrive as schools reopen

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Kids havenít been in school since March, and when they returned this week, they were more concerned about masks and social distancing than the process of education.

Itís up to us adults to do our best to normalize school as much as possible this fall, and that includes seeing them to and from school safely.

At the same time, itís up to us to adjust to the new challenges we face as well.

ďThis pandemic could create risky conditions on the roadway as drivers may be unsure of when and where they may encounter children,Ē said Gene LaDoucer, Nebraska spokesman for AAA Ė the Auto Club Group. ďDrivers should treat neighborhoods like school zones as students taking virtual classes could be outside at various times throughout the day.Ē

Slow down in school zones, and stop when you see a bus with flashing lights or a stop sign extended -- itís the law. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 264 school-age children killed in school-transportation-related crashes from 2008 to 2017. Most of those werenít on the bus; 203 were either walking waiting for the bus, biking or in another vehicle.

School zones have lower speed limits for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.

A stop sign means come to a complete stop. Research shows that more than a third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Watch for kids on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.

Shut off you cell phone and put down that fast food. Taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles the chance of an accident.

Bicycles are a great way to get to school, but children on bicycles can be inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing between your vehicle and a bicyclist -- itís the law. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that he or she wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet.

Young drivers can be dangerous as well. The leading cause of death for teens in the United States is car crashes, and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occurs during the after-school hours of 3 to 7 p.m.

AAA Nebraska offers more school safety tools and information here: https://bit.ly/2YfdGfE

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