17:00 PM

AAA Urges Motorists to Use Extra Caution as Kids Head Back to School

As students across North Dakota are preparing for the start of the school year, AAA reminds motorists to be aware of increased child pedestrian activity and traffic congestion.

AAA also reminds motorists about the importance of stopping for school buses when picking up or dropping off students.

"AAA urges drivers to allow extra time for their morning commute, use extreme caution when driving through neighborhoods or school zones where children are present, and always avoid distractions that take your mind and eyes off of the roadway," said Gene LaDoucer, North Dakota spokesman for AAA-The Auto Club Group.

AAA offers other helpful tips to keep children safe:

Back up carefully. The dangers of the morning commute begin the moment motorists start backing out of driveways. Always look for children and be aware that some young pedestrians may be small enough to be hidden in vehicle blind spots. This is especially true for those driving larger vehicles.

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. Be alert to variable speed signs that post lower limits during certain hours when children are typically present.

Buckle Up! Parents and carpoolers who drive children to/from school are reminded to use the proper child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt, based on the child's age and size. In North Dakota, children younger than 8 years of age are required to ride in a child restraint (car seat or booster seat) suitable for their size and age. Additionally, children under age 13 should ride in the back seat. For additional information on passenger safety requirements, visit VisionZero.ND.Gov.

Look for AAA School Safety Patrollers. With over 654,000 AAA School Safety Patrollers in 34,500 schools across the country, they're a sure sign you're approaching a school zone. Slow down and be prepared to stop.

Come to a complete stop. Research shows that more than one third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop, checking carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.

Stop for loading or unloading school buses. Not stopping when approaching or overtaking a school bus which has stop lights on and the stop arm extended is unlawful. Motorists are required to stay stopped until the stop arm on the bus and stop lights are deactivated.

Eliminate driver distraction. AAA 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. Get in the habit of turning your phone off each time you get behind the wheel.

Watch for bicyclists. Children on bikes are often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and the rider. If your child rides a bike to school, he or she should always wear a properly fitted bike helmet.

Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. and more than one-quarter of fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 to 7 p.m. Get evidence-based guidance and tips at TeenDriving.AAA.com.

Teach children to be good pedestrians. Teach children to cross at corners or marked crosswalks, never between parked cars. Listening to music, talking on the phone or playing games while walking are dangerous.

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About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, insurance, financial services and travel offerings to over 9.9 million members across eleven states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 59 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety. Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile. Visit AAA on the Internet at AAA.com.