AAA Minneapolis proudly says that in the long history of its school patrol program, there had never been a fatality at a crossing where a school patrol has been present. The club aims to keep that streak going during the 2013-14 school year.

With class back in session, the automobile club is once again bringing its traffic safety program to schools throughout Hennepin County. AAA Minneapolis provides training materials, safety supplies and recognition items to its more than 5,000 patrol members at more than 150 schools.

In conjunction with its Back-to-School kickoff week, the auto club reminds motorists to slow down near schools and on routes taken by students who walk or bike to school.

After school hours are the most deadly for children. One-third of the 1,200 children who lost their lives while walking between 2000 and 2010 did so between 3 and 7 p.m., said Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, manager of AAA's Traffic Safety Advocacy.

This week AAA put out these tips for drivers and reminders to be vigilant for pedestrians during before- and after-school hours.

  • Slow down. Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.
  • Eliminate distractions. Children often cross the road unexpectedly and may emerge suddenly between two parked cars. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
  • Reverse responsibly. Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, driveway and around your vehicle before slowly backing up. Teach children to never play in, under or around vehicles—even those that are parked.
  • Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and more than one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 to 7 p.m.
  • Come to a complete stop. Research shows that more than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop, checking carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.
  • Watch for bicycles. Children on bikes are often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least 3 feet of passing distance between your vehicle and the bicycle. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that they wear a properly-fitted bicycle helmet on every ride.

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