(WSYM) — AAA Michigan is reminding drivers that roads are about to get more crowded as millions of students and teachers return to school.
According to a survey of Michigan drivers, 53% drive through a school zone during their daily commute or regular driving route, and 40% admit to speeding while driving in active school zones.
Related: The rules you need to follow for stopping for school buses as kids begin returning
Due to this, the company has launched the "School's Open Drive Carefully" campaign which reminds drivers to slow down and obey traffic laws when passing bus stops and driving through school zones.
“Drivers should have a heightened sense of awareness from the moment they leave the driveway,” said Adrienne Woodland, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Students will be walking or pedaling throughout neighborhoods and alongside city streets, making their way to-and-from school or the bus stop. Many of them might not be looking for you, so make sure you’re looking for them.”
One major focus is on school zones that have a high vehicle, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic. AAA said kids on bicycles can be unpredictable and make sudden changes, so lower your speed and increase your awareness in a school zone.
When it comes to bus stops, a AAA survey found 46% of drivers encounter bus stops during their regular driving, and more than a quarter admit to driving around a school bus when it's red lights or flashing, and 25% said they have cut off a school bus because it's driving too slow.
“Driving around a school bus while its red lights are flashing is extremely dangerous,” Woodland added. “Oftentimes the reason people illegally pass school buses is because they are in a hurry. Please allow yourself extra time on the road, so you are not tempted to take unnecessary risks on the road that endanger the lives of children.”
Motorists are required to stop when approaching a school bus that is stopped with its red lights flashing and STOP arms extended. There is only one exception, which is explained below.
School Bus Safety Tips for Drivers
- Prepare to stop when a school bus is slowing down and has its overhead yellow lights flashing
- Stop at least 20 feet away from school buses when red lights are flashing
- Slow down as you approach and while driving through school zones and residential areas
- Look for clues, such as safety patrols, crossing guards, bicycles, and playgrounds, that indicate children may be in the area
- Watch for children between parked cars and other objects
AAA is reminding drivers to slow down, as speed limits are reduced for a reason. Someone struck by a vehicle going 25 mph is nearly 2/3 less likely to be killed than a pedestrian hit by a vehicle traveling 10 mph faster.
Also, come to a complete stop and DO NOT roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods.