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An Oakland Police officer pins a badge on a School Safety Patrol student. AAA’s long-running School Safety Patrol program promotes leadership skills in students who participate.

BAY AREA, Calif. (Aug. 16, 2017) –  As the new school year begins, AAA wants to remind motorists about safe ways to share the roads with young pedestrians, other drivers, bicyclists and school buses.

There were 456 children killed on U.S. roads in 2015, according to Safe Kids Worldwide.

“A new school year brings a lot of excitement, making it easy for children to become distracted on their commute to and from school,” said Mike Blasky, spokesman for AAA Northern California. “As a safety advocate, AAA urges drivers to use extra caution when traveling near schools, especially as the school year begins.”

AAA urges motorists to follow these five tips for sharing the road with young pedestrians, other drivers, bicyclists, and school buses:

  • Wait your turn: It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children. School buses use yellow flashing lights to alert motorists that they are preparing to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm also signal that children are getting on or off the bus.
  • Check the medians: Traffic in both directions must stop on undivided roadways when students are entering or exiting a school bus. On a divided roadway, traffic behind the school bus must stop.
  • Extra room: The area 10 feet around a school bus is where children are in the most danger of getting hit. Stop your car far enough from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely enter and exit the bus.
  • Slow down: During busy week day commutes, remember to slow down, allow for extra commute time and avoid driving distracted on your way to and from work. Keep in mind that fines are doubled in school zones when signs are out.
  • Don’t cross the line: Drivers should not block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn. Leave pedestrians with plenty of room to cross safely.

If your child will be walking or biking to school, AAA urges parents and caregivers to discuss the following five safety tips with them: 

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  • Be alert: Look left, right and left again, before crossing the street and. Children should also be advised to avoid distractions and watch for potential road hazards.
  • Listen up: Always stop when directed to do so by a school patrol sign, school patrol officer or crossing guard.
  • Wear a helmet: Safety is cool. Kids who bicycle always should wear a helmet. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent.
  • Phone a friend: Have kids walk to school with a relative, friend or neighbor.
  • Walk with caution: Walk only on the sidewalk, and cross the street only at crosswalks. Avoid walking in front of, behind or between parked cars. Remind them that even though they can see the vehicle, the driver might not see them.

AAA is a go-to source for traffic safety information. Visit AAA.com/trafficsafety to learn more.

AAA Northern California offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance, DMV, financial services and consumer discounts to more than 4 million members. AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded more than 117 years ago.