It still feels like summer but in a few days kids start heading back to school across our community. “Now is a great time to go over safety rules with your children, including the important rules that help them stay safe if they are going to be walking to and from school,” said Lieutenant Kenny Rose of the Lehi Police Department.
Approximately 42% of Lehi’s population is 18 years old or younger; that means a lot kids walking, biking, or driving to school. Parents should take time to refresh the rules about crosswalk and sidewalk safety, including teaching children not to dart into the road, to be aware of cars, and how to follow “walk” and “do not walk” signs and signals.
“If you have a new driver in the house, please remind them to be aware of school children and to not drive distracted,” said Lieutenant Rose. “Make sure to stop when following a bus and to watch for children exiting the bus.”
The Lehi Police Department agrees with the American Automobile Association’s warning for drivers to be especially vigilant watching for pedestrians before and after school hours. The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous – over the last decade, nearly one in four child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m, according to Lieutenant Rose.
Here are several recommendations from AAA regarding ways drivers can help to keep kids safe:
- Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
- 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.
- Eliminate distractions. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing. And children can be quick, crossing the road unexpectedly or emerging suddenly between two parked cars. Reduce risk by not using your cell phone or eating while driving, for example.
- Reverse responsibly. Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, in the driveway and around your vehicle before slowly backing up. Teach your children to never play in, under or around vehicles.
- Watch for bicycles. Children on bikes are often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that he or she wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride.
• Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.