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LOS ANGELES — Southern California students will soon return to the classroom on foot and bike, as well as in cars and school buses. To prevent traffic-related injuries and deaths among students, the Automobile Club of Southern California is reminding drivers to slow down and remain alert in and around school zones as well as in other areas where children may be present.

More than 500,000 Los Angeles Unified School District students are preparing for the first day of school on Monday, KTLA reported. The country’s second largest district is ready and fully staffed for the big day.

This is the first time in the school district’s history that all teacher vacancies have been filled before the school year, LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho told KTLA early Monday.

“We are ready,” Carvalho said. “Nothing beats a caring teacher in the classroom who understands a child and touches his heart to influence his mind.” He said that more than 70,000 specialists are working and ready to start the new year.

Carvalho described the start of the school year as “the sleeping giant called LAUSD waking up from its summer siesta.”

Accidents are one of the leading causes of death for school-age children. The afternoon hours are especially dangerous. Nearly one-third of child pedestrian deaths occur between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m

Children are especially vulnerable because they are small, less visible to drivers, don’t always make safe decisions near streets, and are easily distracted when near other children. Children are not adults, so it is up to drivers to compensate for these differences. AAA School Opening – Drive Cautiously! The awareness campaign began in 1946 to help reduce child pedestrian deaths and injuries. Today, this effort is more important than ever due to the proliferation of smartphones among drivers and the increase in distracted driving on our roads.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,522 people died in distraction-related crashes in the United States in 2021. This means an average of 9 people are killed every day in completely preventable crashes.

Distracted driving is especially dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. Non-drivers account for nearly one in five distracted driving deaths. The true numbers of distracted driving deaths and injuries are likely much higher because distracted driving is often underreported or difficult to identify as the cause of a crash.

“School-age children will soon be going to and from campus, so drivers need to prepare for them,” said Doug Shoop, director of communications and corporate programs for the Auto Club. “If you drive distracted, you become ‘immersed’ behind the wheel, and can cause the same tragedies as a driver suffering from alcohol or drug addiction. So, make it a habit to put your smartphones out of sight and stay alert on the road.” , especially in school zones, in neighborhoods, around parks, and near bus stops.

The Car Club is joining forces with Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT), the world’s largest telematics provider, to remind the public of the dangers of distracted driving during this time of year. According to CMT research:

• Screen engagement during the back-to-school period (August 1 to Labor Day) has increased every year since 2020. It was 15% higher last year than in 2020.

• Since 2020, distracted driving across the country has caused 31,000 crashes, 80 deaths, and more than $740 million in economic damage during the back-to-school period.

Jamie White also joins the Auto Club in sharing this important safety reminder. White lost her young daughter, Allie, in September 2019. After arriving at the soccer field for her brother’s game, in a split second with her father by her side, Allie got off the curb in the parking lot, the driver speeding along as she spoke. On the cell phone, he ran over the child and killed her.

“Was the phone call more important than Allie’s life?” Her mother asked. “Allie Estelle was just shy of her third birthday,” White said.

With schools and recreational sports activities starting again soon, White joined the car club and law enforcement in hopes of preventing the pain and loss her family felt from happening to others.

“I see Allie as a superhero. Her life was taken by a distracted driver that was completely preventable, but her story touches so many people’s lives. People hear her story and cry, and it makes them think about what they’re doing while driving,” White said.

To prevent injuries and deaths this school year, the Automobile Club reminds drivers of the following:

  1. Eliminate distractions and put down cell phones. Children often cross the road unexpectedly and may suddenly emerge between parked cars.
  2. Slower. Speed ​​limits in school zones are lowered for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a car traveling at 25 mph is approximately two-thirds less likely to be killed than a pedestrian struck by a car traveling at only 10 mph.
  3. Talk to teens. More than a quarter of fatal accidents involving teen drivers occur during after-school hours.
  4. Complete stop at stop signs. Research shows that more than a third of drivers run through stop signs in school zones or on neighborhood streets. Always stop completely, and carefully check for children on sidewalks and at crosswalks before proceeding.
  5. Beware of bikes. Children who ride bikes can be inexperienced, unstable, and unpredictable. Slow down and leave at least three feet between your car and the bike.
  6. Watch for school buses. Drivers should slow down and prepare to stop if they see yellow flashing lights indicating that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Red flashing lights and extended stop arms mean the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. Drivers must stop and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop lever retracts, and the bus starts moving before they can drive again.

Parents and guardians must also:

  1. Walk school roads with young children to point out potential traffic hazards.
  2. Remind kids to watch the road, not their phones. Ask them not to call, text, or play games until they reach their destination or stop at a safe place.
  3. Have students remove their headphones or turn down the volume so they can hear what’s going on around them.
  4. Encourage students to always be aware of cars and make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street or crosswalk to make sure the driver sees them.
  5. Remind children not to play, push or push others when they are wandering in traffic.
  6. Make sure cyclists wear a properly fitted helmet and a securely fastened chin strap on every bike ride.
  7. Talk about school bus safety with passengers including, staying five steps away from the curb, waiting until the buses have come to a complete stop and the driver signals for them to get on first, and always looking left to right to left for cars before exiting the bus and crossing the street.

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