Two horrible scares, but thankfully not two tragedies, this week point to a need for action.
First, on Tuesday morning, a three-vehicle crash near Glynview Plaza involved a Floyd County Schools bus, but thankfully, no serious injuries. A second crash, this one Wednesday morning on U.S. 23 near Betsy Layne Elementary during the school rush, did result in one person being injured, but thankfully, that was the extent of the damage.
What these incidents point to, however, is the need for us as a community to be vigilant and careful when traveling on the roads. Of course, that’s true any time of the year. But over the next month it is crucial.
Classes will be in session in some Floyd schools for the next month, and, as a result, before-school and after-school traffic will continue to be heavy in the mornings and afternoons. But there’s also prom traffic, new teen drivers and plenty of other reasons for drivers to be extra cautious this time of year.
Drivers can sometimes get too comfortable with routine by the end of the school year, which can lead to them dropping their guard, leading to an increased possibility for crashes.
AAA offers several tips for driving in connection with school traffic:
• 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.
• 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.
• Eliminate distractions. Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing. And children can be quick, crossing the road unexpectedly or emerging suddenly between two parked cars. Reduce risk by not using your cell phone or eating while driving, for example.
• Reverse responsibly. Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, in the driveway and around your vehicle before slowly backing up. Teach your children to never play in, under or around vehicles.
• Watch for bicycles. Children on bikes are often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that he or she wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride.
• Talk to your teen. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
This time of year is a time of positive changes — graduations, activities and other events — but it can also turn tragic more quickly. Making the right choices matters.