Police: Watch for children while driving

— State Police are reminding drivers to be cautious as students go back to school, and to support AAA’s annual “School’s Open—Drive Carefully” campaign.

Troop G Commander Maj. Steven James on Wednesday, Sept. 4, said drivers should use “extra caution,” because “vacation minded” children are less likely to be careful while traveling to and from school. Motorists should be especially alert for children darting out from between parked cars, James said.

“As our schools open, the New York State Police remind drivers to be extra careful behind the wheel,” State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said in a statement. “School zones mean school bus traffic, school speed zones and children walking. By being alert and obeying traffic laws, the public can help law enforcement keep our children safe as they head back to school.”

The annual campaign was started by AAA in 1946 and seeks to reduce the likelihood of child pedestrian fatalities and injuries. More than 55 million children nationally are heading back to school and around 13 percent walk or bike to school, according to AAA. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children from 5 to 14 years old.

AAA recommends drivers slow down, completely stop at stop signs, check for blind spots before slowly backing up, eliminate any distractions while driving and watch for kids on bicycles. Parents and guardians are also urged to teach their children to not play in, under or around vehicles, along with properly advising teen drivers.

Reduced speed limits around schools are aimed to keep children safe and reduce the risk fatalities. A pedestrian hit by a car traveling 25 mph is around 65 percent less likely to be killed than if struck by a car traveling 10 mph faster, according to AAA.

AAA also said children riding their bike are “often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable,” so drivers should slow down and provide at least 3 feet of passing distance.

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