As millions of students nationwide head back to school, the National Coalition for Safer Roads (NCSR) is calling special attention to red light safety for motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.
No matter how they get to and from school — cars, buses, bikes, or simply walking — NCSR is striving to educate parents and students about the importance of staying safe by being vigilant about their surroundings.
“As many parents focus on back to school supplies, it is essential that they take the time to talk with their children who are either heading to school for the first time, or back to school, about traffic and road safety precautions to ensure a safe commute,” said David Kelly, president and executive director of NCSR, and former acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). “The greatest risk for children is when they are walking to school or waiting for the bus, when they are at-risk for falling victim to careless red-light runners.”
Since 2000, 130 school-age pedestrians (younger than 19) have died in school transportation-related crashes with 56 (43 percent) between the ages of 5 and 7 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Red-light running is the leading cause of urban crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In 2009, 676 people were killed and an estimated 113,000 were injured in crashes that involved red-light running, with pedestrians, bicyclists and occupants in vehicles that are hit by the red-light runners accounting for about half of the deaths.
To highlight the importance of back to school road safety, NCSR is reminding adults and children about important Red Light Safety Tips:
ALWAYS Stop on Red!
- Whether it’s a red light, stop sign, pedestrian crosswalk signal, or school bus signal — ALWAYS STOP ON RED!
- Drivers: Be aware of children walking to and from bus stops, as they might not be paying attention to you and could dart into the road.
- Pedestrians: ALWAYS stop, look and listen before crossing an intersection — even if the pedestrian signal shows the walking figure.
- Cyclists: ALWAYS wear a helmet and be aware of the around traffic you. Be cautious and share the roadway.
- Drivers: Obey posted speed limits and NEVER try to beat a light to save a few seconds. No family should have to suffer the loss of a loved one because of someone’s desire to beat a light.
- Pedestrians: Try to arrive to your bus stop early and map out your route ahead of time so you are never rushing to catch the bus. Always wait at least 6 feet from the curb and don’t approach the bus until it comes to a complete stop.
- Cyclists: Plan your route ahead of time so you are never rushing. Use designated cycling lanes when possible and be sure to share the roadway.
- Drivers: Reduce any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. NEVER talk on your cell phone or text while driving!
- Pedestrians and Cyclists: Listening to music, talking or texting on cell phones as you walk or ride your bike are deadly distractions that leave you unaware of your surroundings. Keep devices off and your eyes and ears open. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
“There are too many close calls with careless drivers at intersections. We’re promoting back to school road safety and red light safety to help protect our children, our families and our communities from the callous and dangerous behavior of red-light runners,” Kelly said. “By using innovative technologies such as red light safety cameras at dangerous intersections across the country, we can put an end to deadly red-light running. Together, we can protect our communities, families and children by always stopping on red.”
To further highlight the dangers of red-light running, NCSR has released a series of powerful testimonials and PSAs on the dangers of red-light running. In 2004, Amanda DeVine was driving home from school when a dump-truck driver ran a red light and broadsided her SUV. DeVine suffered a severe traumatic brain injury, lost her spleen and almost lost a kidney. View Amanda’s story.
Other important back to school safety tips from NHTSA and the Department of Transportation can be found by visiting http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/buses/kidsschoolbus_en.html.
NCSR is a nonprofit advocacy organization that brings together industry leaders, community leaders and concerned citizens in support of red light safety camera technology. Coalition members include the National Safety Council, Child Safety Network, National Organizations for Youth Safety, America Walks and Red Means Stop. For more information, visit http://SafeRoadsSaveLives.org/, follow @SaferRoadsUSA on Twitter and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SaferRoadsUSA.