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Ready for school? Tips for avoiding car accidents involving kids

It’s about that time of year again. Here in Texas and across the United States, kids are about to start walking, biking and riding buses to school. Whether your mourn the end of summer or are excited about fall, you may need a refresher course yourself on avoiding motor vehicle accidents involving children.

Slow down. Watch for crossing guards, pedestrians and bikers. Notice when you’re in a school zone. These are all important, and they seem easy enough, but nevertheless thousands of pedestrians and bicyclists under age 15 are injured every year in motor vehicle accidents, and hundreds more are killed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In fact, NHTSA says that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among children fourteen and younger, and fully one-fifth of all traffic fatalities in that age group involve pedestrian accidents. In 2011, 11,000 kids under 15 were injured in pedestrian accidents, and nearly the same number were injured in bicycle accidents with cars. The most dangerous time for kids to be walking or biking? Nearly half of all fatal accidents involving pedestrians and bicyclists under 15 occur between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Since 1946, the American Automobile Association has produced an annual safety campaign each fall called “School’s Open -- Drive Carefully,” and that campaign lists the six most important tips for avoiding motor vehicle accidents involving children:

Slow down. The drop between 35 mph and 25 mph cuts the risk that a pedestrian accident will be fatal by nearly two-thirds.

Don’t roll to a stop. Kids can seem to appear out of nowhere, so fully stopping at intersections saves lives.

Don’t get distracted. Taking your eyes off the road for only two seconds doubles the risk of a car accident.

Never back up without a careful check of your blind spots. Every vehicle has them.

Give extra room to young bikers. New bikers, especially can be a bit wobbly and unpredictable, so give them at least three feet of space, then proceed slowly.

Finally, NHTSA says that a whopping 79 percent of child pedestrian accidents take place outside of intersections, when drivers are least expecting kids.

Let’s make it a great school year in Fort Bend County by driving safely.

Sources: 

  • AAA Newsroom, "Stepping Up and Out Safely," Aug. 5, 2013
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Traffic Safety Facts, 2010 Data: Children - NHTSA,” May 2013

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