It's The First Day Of School — A Refresher On How To Drive Safe Around Kids

With hundreds of thousands of young Angelenos heading back to school this week, here are a few ways to make streets and sidewalks safer for everyone — especially kids. (Mae Ryan/KPCC file photo)

By Sue Carpenter and Melissa Leu

Welcome back, kids. Today's the first day back for students in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

That means if there's ever a time to start paying attention to the road (not that you didn't before), this is that time.

In the past decade, about one-third of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., according to the American Automobile Association of Southern California.

So if you haven't learned defensive driving yet, here are a few ways to make streets and sidewalks safer for kids — and pretty much everyone else. (Hint: these should be obvious.)

SLOW DOWN

Speed limits around schools are lower for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 25 miles per hour is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 35 miles per hour.

PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE

Pay extra attention while driving in neighborhoods and school zones. It's already illegal in California to use a handheld device while at the wheel, but a lot of people still do it. If you're one of them, keep in mind that children often cross the road unexpectedly and may emerge suddenly between two parked cars. Pay attention in neighborhoods and school zones.

Looking at your phone means you're a lot less likely to see — and react to — a critical situation.

WATCH FOR BICYCLES

Children on bikes are often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. So slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a cyclist.

Editor's note: A version of this story was also on the radio. Listen to it here on KPCC's Take Two.


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