(Bismarck, ND) -- North Dakota roads are about to get more crowded, and hazardous, as thousands of students and teachers return to school.
This time of year is particularly dangerous due to the combination of young inexperienced drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists who will all share the road in the early morning and afternoon hours.
“Drivers should have a heightened sense of awareness from the moment they leave the driveway,” said Gene LaDoucer, regional director of public affairs for Triple A. “Expect more foot traffic in neighborhoods and along city streets. It’s important to constantly scan the road for people while driving and be ready to stop at a moment’s notice. You can reduce risk by slowing down and avoiding distractions like using your cell phone or eating while driving.”
Tips for drivers include:
- 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.
- Share the road with bicyclists. Children on bicycles are often inexperienced, unsteady and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist.
- Talk to your teen. Car crashes are one of the leading causes of death for teens in the United States, and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occurs during the after-school hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Tips for students and pedestrians include:
- Pay attention at all times. Avoid texting or wearing headphones, so you can detect nearby traffic.
- Use sidewalks where available. If not, walk against the direction of traffic so you can see oncoming vehicles.
- Make yourself easier to be seen by wearing reflective, bright colored clothing.
Tips for Bicyclists include:
- Wearing a helmet and neon or bright colored clothes.
- Ride in the same direction as traffic and stay as far to the right as possible. Use bike lanes when you can.
- Do not wear headphones so you can detect approaching traffic.
- Cross the street at intersections. Do not pull into the roadway from between parked cars.
Students at Bus Stop should:
- Arrive at least 5 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.
- Stay five steps away from the curb.
- Be alert and remove headphones so you can hear oncoming traffic.
- Wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and the bus driver signals for you to board.
You can find out more information on safe driving during the school year by clicking here.