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AAA Chicago Urges Motorists to Drive Carefully as Schools Open

In its 56th annual School's Open -- Drive Carefully campaign, AAA Chicago reminds motorists to slow down and watch out for children heading back to school.

"Everyone needs to take extra precaution during this hectic time of year," said Steve Nolan, spokesperson for AAA Chicago. "Children may have trouble making accurate judgments about traffic speed and distance, so drivers should be particularly alert."

AAA Chicago has distributed more than 15,000 special posters to communities in Illinois and Indiana reminding motorists to drive carefully. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Indiana Gov. Frank O'Bannon and numerous mayors and village presidents in both states have declared the week of August 25 as School's Open Safety Week.

The AAA School's Open -- Drive Carefully campaign encourages motorists to stay alert in areas where children are present. Drivers should look out for children who may dart out into the street near school zones, playgrounds, bus stops and in neighborhoods.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, one-fourth of all children under 14 years who die in motor vehicle crashes are pedestrians. The majority of these pedestrian fatalities happen in the afternoon hours when school is letting out.

To help protect children, AAA urges motorists to follow these safety tips:

  • Slow down in or near school and residential areas.
  • Drive with headlights on -- even during daylight hours.
  • Look for clues such as School Safety Patrollers, bicycles, crossing guards, busses and playgrounds that indicate children could be in the area.
  • Scan between parked cars and other objects for signs that children could dart into the road.
  • Use extra caution in adverse weather conditions.
  • Avoid distractions such as cell phones, animated conversations and adjusting vehicle controls while in or near school zones.
  • Pay particular attention in school neighborhoods during morning arrival and afternoon dismissal times.
  • Always stop for school buses that are loading or unloading students.

Source: AAA Chicago