It may seem hard to believe, but summer has nearly come to an end. For students across California, that means an end to summer vacation and the start of a new school year. For drivers in the Sacramento area and beyond, back-to-school time means stricter enforcement of traffic laws and an increased risk of pedestrian accidents.
The American Automobile Association, better known as AAA, is already issuing press releases warning drivers that school zones and residential neighborhoods are going to be buzzing with pedestrians very soon. And with an increase in pedestrian activity comes an increased risk of a serious accident.
According to AAA, in 2013 alone, pedestrian accidents involving children resulted in 330 deaths and 13,000 injuries. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety notes that in the past 10 years, approximately one-third of child pedestrian deaths occurred between 3:00 and 7:00 p.m. (the after-school hours).
If you live near a school, you may have gotten used to summer speed limits. But when school is back in session, police will be enforcing school-zone speed limits, which are generally at least 10 mph slower than in other areas. Those slower speeds make a difference. Even if a pedestrian accident does occur, the victim is about 66 percent less likely to be killed if struck at 25 mph than if struck at 35 mph.
Even if you are an experienced and conscientious driver, safety cannot be taken for granted when it comes to children. Their movements are often unpredictable and unintentionally dangerous. Therefore, it’s up to the rest of us to ensure that we are extra vigilant when driving near schools.