Back-to-school traffic can be dangerous for pedestrians


By Kimberly Schwind - Special to the Inquirer



COLUMBUS — As Ohio students head back to school, AAA urges motorists and students to work together to help curb tragedies.

The Facts:

On average, a pedestrian was killed every 88 minutes in traffic crashes in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In Ohio, pedestrian fatalities remain high. Last year 132 pedestrians died from traffic crashes, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). This is nearly 5 percent higher than the five year average (2014-2018).

Young pedestrians are not immune. During the past five years, ODOT says 3,792 crashes involving pedestrians 18 years old or younger occurred in Ohio (about 758 each year). These resulted in 68 young pedestrian deaths, including 13 killed in 2018.

Students going to and from school are especially at risk, as ODOT data shows young pedestrian crashes spike in the morning and afternoon, with 3 p.m. standing out as the peak time for crashes involving pedestrians 18 years old and younger. Thursday and Friday also prove especially dangerous.

Safety Advice for Motorists:

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. Through this campaign, AAA urges motorists to do the following:

Slow down: A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 25 mph is about two-thirds less likely to be killed than a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 35 mph. A difference of 10 mph can save a life.

Eliminate distractions: Children on foot or bicycle are often unpredictable and may cross the road unexpectedly, or emerge suddenly between two parked cars. Half of the child pedestrians killed in Ohio last year (ages 15 and younger) were darting into travel lanes when they were hit, according to ODOT. It’s important to pay attention at all times; especially in school zones and neighborhoods.

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

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 and traffic. Remember, driving around a stopped school bus is dangerous and illegal.

Look for AAA School Safety Patrollers: Since 1920, AAA School Safety Patrollers have worked at schools across the country to keep their classmates safe. Today, 645,000 Patrollers in more than 34,500 schools volunteer their time to help their peers get on and off busses and walk to and from school safely. Local participating schools and advisor contacts are available upon request.

Pedestrian Safety for Students:

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, AAA 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.

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. Drivers have trouble seeing and stopping.

More back to school safety tips can be found at AAA.com/SchoolsOpen.

Video footage of the AAA School Safety Patrol is available here. This footage is available for media use.

As North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides nearly 59 million members with travel-, insurance-, financial-, and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and an advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.

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By Kimberly Schwind

Special to the Inquirer

Kimberly Schwind is a Senior Public Relations Manager at AAA Ohio Auto Club

Kimberly Schwind is a Senior Public Relations Manager at AAA Ohio Auto Club