Schools out for Summer: AAA warns drivers to use caution

Posted at 8:17 AM, Jun 15, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-15 09:26:50-04

Richmond, Va – School systems are out for summer break which means lots of sunshine and an increase in children on the roads especially in neighborhoods and parks. AAA Mid-Atlantic wants commuters to be aware and drive cautiously.

 Martha M. Meade, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic says everyone “should expect more foot and bike traffic in neighborhoods and residential areas as school-aged children look to take advantage of the warm weather, longer daylight hours, and not having to prepare for school the following morning.”

Here's some tips to consider year round, especially during summer months:

  • Buckle up. Always buckle up, even for short trips. Restrain children in federally approved child safety or booster seats. As of July 1, 2007, Virginia law requires children to be restrained in federally approved child safety or booster seats through age seven.
  • Keep it light. Drive with headlights on, even during the day, so that children and other drivers can see you.
  • Slow down. Maintain a 20-30 second visual lead, allowing time to identify unexpected problems and drive defensively.
  • Look out. Scan between parked cars and other objects for signs that children are at play and could dart into the road.
  • Use eye contact. Make eye contact with children who are about to cross the street. Be aware of their next step and be sure to indicate yours.
  • Look for clues. Playgrounds and other areas may indicate children could be in the area.
  • Look both ways. Make sure you are looking for pedestrians and cyclists too, not just vehicles.

 Parents need to consider extra safety measures during summer months as well. Here's some tips:

  • Wear a helmet. Make sure your children wear their helmets. Using a helmet is the single most effective countermeasure available to reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from bike crashes. Bike helmets are 85 to 88 percent effective in preventing head and brain injuries in all types of bike incidents, according to NHTSA.
  • Play in safe areas. Focus on keeping children occupied away from the streets. When possible, keep children within gated areas so they cannot easily dart into the street. Use the portion of the yard furthest from the street or take children to the track at a local high school where they can ride their bikes out of harm’s way.
  • Provide responsible supervision. Studies show that children under the age of 12 have not developed the ability to judge driver behavior and often are not tall enough for drivers to see.  Have a responsible sibling or adult watching your child at all times.