As a grandfather of nine, I take the safety of our nation’s children personally. So, with summer drawing to a close and students returning to school, I want to remind parents, caregivers, and everyone traveling on our nation’s roads to stay alert and drive responsibly so our kids can arrive at their classrooms and return home safely.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2,847 school-aged children were killed in traffic related crashes in 2010. A greater proportion of those deaths occurred in the afternoon --between 3 and 4 p.m.-- than at any other time of day.
These tragic deaths and thousands of injuries can be prevented if drivers pay extra attention to basic safety tips:
- Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones, before and after school hours.
- Watch out for kids crossing in the middle of the block, instead of intersections.
- Give pedestrians the right of way at a crosswalk.
- And make sure to give the road your full attention by putting away your cell phone until you’ve safely reached your destination.
NHTSA is also helping students travel safely with its new nationwide traffic safety campaign, Think Safe, Ride Safe, Be Safe!, featuring characters from the animated series Chuggington™. This safety program lists precautions that students should take when traveling to school by bus, foot, bike, or car.
Look, we know that kids can be unpredictable. They don't always follow safety guidelines. And as hard as NHTSA works to educate children about the steps they can take to get themselves safely to school and back, the safety burden still remains on us, America's drivers.
So let's pay attention; let's follow the simple tips above; and let's make this school year the safest one ever.