Keep back-to-school traffic from turning deadly

Staff report

COLUMBUS — The first day of school for Galion students is Aug. 20.

Despite a 5 mph slower speed limit on Ohio 598 in front of the Galion City Schools campus, traffic headaches will still be common, especially around the time schools start and let out each day. More businesses have opened in that area in recent weeks, which translates into more traffic.

As students across the state return to classes, AAA is urging motorists to help curb tragedies by watching 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 144, according to the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). This is nearly 24 percent higher than the five year average (2013-2017).

Young pedestrians are not immune.

During the past five years ODOT says 2,964 crashes involving pedestrians 18 years old or younger occurred in Ohio (about 600 each year). These resulted in 46 young pedestrian deaths, including 13 killed in 2017.

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 are especially dangerous.

Safety tips for motorists

Since 1946 AAA has been dedicated to helping reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities with the School’s Open — Drive Carefully campaign. Through this campaign, AAA urges motorists to do the following:

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.

Look for school safety patrols: For 98 years AAA School Safety Patrollers have worked at schools across the country to keep their classmates safe.

Pedestrian safety tips for students

Congestion in school zones makes it difficult for drivers and children to see each other. This increases the likelihood of collisions. Parents can help keep their children safe by teaching them the following safe walking habits:

Go directly to and from school or the bus stop.

Cross at corners and use crosswalks.

Cooperate with police, school safety patrols and adult crossing guards.

Look in all directions for approaching vehicles before crossing the street. Watch for vehicles that might turn.

Obey all traffic signals.

If you must walk on roads that have no sidewalks, walk facing the traffic and as far from the roadway surface as possible.

Be extra alert in bad weather. Drivers have trouble seeing and stopping.

More back to school safety tips can be found at

Staff report