School Zone Traffic Can Turn Deadly

As pedestrian fatalities rise, AAA urges motorists to drive carefully

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (August 7, 2017) – As Ohio students head back to school this month, AAA urges motorists to watch out for added pedestrians, school buses and traffic on the roads.

Pedestrian fatalities are on the rise in Ohio. Last year the number of pedestrian fatalities soared to 140, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). This is nearly 26 percent higher than the five year average (2012-2016).

Young pedestrians are not immune. During the past five years ODOT says 2,958 crashes involving pedestrians 18 years old or younger occurred in Ohio (about 600 each year). These resulted in 45 deaths, including 11 killed in 2016.

Students going to and from school are especially at risk, as ODOT data shows young pedestrian crashes spike in the morning and afternoon, with 3 p.m. standing out as the peak time for crashes involving pedestrians 18 years old and younger. Thursday and Friday also prove especially dangerous.

School’s Open – Drive Carefully:

For 71 years, AAA has been dedicated to helping reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities through the School’s Open – Drive Carefully campaign. This awareness campaign started in 1946 to curb a trend of unsafe driving behavior in school zones and neighborhoods, and today offers the following tips:

  • Slow down: A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 25 mph is about two-thirds less likely to be killed than a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 35 mph. A difference of 10 mph can save a life.
  • Eliminate distractions: Children on foot or bicycle are often unpredictable and may cross the road unexpectedly or emerge suddenly between two parked cars. Research shows that looking away from the road for two seconds doubles the risk of crashing.
  • Come to a complete stop: Studies show that more than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods.
  • Plan Ahead: Traffic is heavier once school is back in session. Drivers should give themselves extra time by leaving early or modifying their routes to avoid school zones and traffic. Remember, driving around a stopped school bus is dangerous and illegal.

Students Helping Students:

In its 97th year, more than 654,000 student AAA School Safety Patrollers will work to keep their classmates safe at 34,500 schools across the country, including hundreds of Ohio schools. In Delaware County, students at the following schools have participated in the AAA School Safety Patrol program:

  • Big Walnut Elementary, Sunbury
  • Hylen Souders Elementary, Galena
  • Buckeye Valley East Elementary, Ashley
  • Delaware Christian School, Delaware
  • Smith Elementary, Delaware
  • St. Mary Elementary, Delaware
  • Eli Pinney Elementary, Dublin
  • Glen Oak Elementary, Lewis Center
  • Oak Creek Elementary, Lewis Center
  • Tyler Run Elementary, Powell
  • Alcott Elementary, Westerville
  • Fouse Elementary, Dublin

“Student volunteers assist their classmates at crossings, carpool areas and bus loading and unloading zones,” said Traffic Safety program manager Kellie O’Riordan. “Patrollers do not direct traffic, but they do help students understand when it is safe to enter roadways.”

Spotting a AAA School Safety patrol student or an adult crossing guard is a sure sign that child pedestrians are nearby, and motorists need to slow down.

More back to school safety tips can be found at

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Staff Report

Information for this story was provided by AAA.