AAA shares school zone safety tips to keep motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists safe ahead of the school year

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When the kids go back to school, the freeways and back roads get busier in the mornings and afternoons with buses, cyclists and pedestrians filling the streets.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that an average of three children are killed in traffic accidents every day. Accident data from Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles said 302 pedestrian children were killed and more than 10,000 injured in Florida last year. In addition, 82 children were killed and more than 9,000 injured while cycling.

In a recent AAA Back-to-School survey, 38% of drivers admitted to speeding in an active school area and 32% admitted to using their cell phone while driving in an active school area.


“When driving through a school area, it is extremely important that you slow down and increase your awareness to ensure you are prepared to respond to potential hazards on the road,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for the AAA. “Remember that it is illegal in Florida to use your handheld mobile device while driving through an active school area.”

AAA has provided several tips to help students walk to school, drivers on their daily commute, and cyclists on the road safely.

Safety tips for drivers

  • Slower: Observe the speed limits in the school area. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 40 km/h is almost two-thirds less likely to be killed than a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 16 km/h faster.

  • Come to a standstill: Research shows that more than a third of drivers run over stop signs in school or residential areas. Always stop completely and be careful of children on sidewalks and crosswalks before proceeding.

  • Eliminate distractions: Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles the likelihood of an accident.

  • Share the road with cyclists: Children on bicycles are often inexperienced, insecure and unpredictable. Slow down and leave at least three feet between your vehicle and a cyclist.

  • Talk to your teenager: Auto accidents are a leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States, and nearly one in four fatal accidents involving teen drivers occur outside of school hours. For evidence-based guidance, visit

The best AAA safety tips for students

AAA also recommends pedestrians eliminate all distractions, such as texting or wearing headphones, to be aware of their surroundings, use sidewalks, and wear visible clothing in light colors.

Cyclists should wear a helmet and brightly colored clothing, ride in the same direction as traffic, use bike lanes when accessible, cross the street at intersections, and avoid wearing headphones while riding, according to the AAA.

If you’re a student waiting at a bus stop, AAA advises that you arrive at least five minutes before the bus, stay five steps from the curb, be alert, and avoid all distractions so you can hear oncoming traffic and wait until the bus is ahead comes to a standstill before boarding the bus.


Reminders of the School Bus Traffic Act

AAA encourages drivers to remember and obey the rules of the road for school buses.

Motorists must stop when approaching a school bus that is stopping with red lights flashing and STOP arms outstretched. The only exception is on a divided highway with a raised partition:

  • Two lane roadAll drivers moving in both directions on a one-way street must stop for a school bus displaying a stop signal and must remain stopped until the street is clear of children AND the school bus stop arm is retracted.

  • Multi-lane paved medianAll drivers moving in either direction must stop for a school bus displaying a stop signal and must remain stopped until the street is clear of children AND the school bus stop arm is retracted.

  • Divided highwayTraffic approaching an oncoming school bus does not need to be stopped when there is an elevated barrier B. A concrete partition or at least 1.50 m of unpaved space separating lanes. However, these motorists should slow down and be aware of students getting on or off the bus.

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