AAA Northern California

News Release
Contact: Matt Skryja (415) 565-7869; cell (415) 385-0464

Media Relations 100 Van Ness Avenue San Francisco, CA 94102 (415) 565-2400

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AAA Tow Trucks Raise School Safety Awareness
SAN FRANCISCO, August 24, 2009 – AAA Northern California’s familiar yellow tow trucks are taking to the roads this back to school season to remind motorists to use extra caution while driving around schools and children. “Each of our 3,200 yellow tow trucks throughout Northern California, Nevada and Utah will feature magnetic displays reminding motorists to be extra vigilant during back to school season,” said Paula Downey, president of AAA Northern California, Nevada and Utah. “This is part of AAA’s continuing commitment to be an advocate for safe and responsible transportation and to promote traffic safety measures that keep children safe.” This isn’t the first time AAA has used its army of yellow tow trucks to improve children’s safety. AAA has been transmitting Amber Alerts to the club’s vast network of tow and service contractors in Northern California since 2002. Nearly one-fifth of traffic fatalities of children below the age of 15 are pedestrians, with more school-age pedestrians killed between the hours of 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. than any other time of day. With 56 million students across the U.S. expected to enroll at more than 98,000 schools this year, AAA urges motorists to keep the following safety tips in mind: • Slow down. Two-thirds of motorists exceeded the posted speed limit during the 30-minute period before and after school, according to a 2003 national observational survey. Whether in a school zone or residential neighborhood, motorists should keep their speed low and be prepared to stop quickly for increased vehicle or pedestrian traffic. Obey traffic signs. Obeying traffic signs is something all motorists should do no matter where they drive. However, a national observational survey found that many motorists violated stop signs in school zones and residential neighborhoods. Forty-five percent did not come to a complete stop, with 37 percent rolling through and 7 percent not even slowing down. Stay alert. Motorists should always avoid distractions while driving, but it’s particularly important in school zones and residential neighborhoods. Looking away from the roadway for just two seconds doubles the chance of being involved in a crash. Avoid talking on mobile phones, adjusting the radio, or any other activities that might take attention away from the roadway. Never text while driving. (MORE)

Page 2 of 2: AAA School’s Open Safety Tips • Scan between parked cars. Nearly 40 percent of child pedestrian fatalities occurred in between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., mostly at non-intersection locations. Children can quickly dart out between parked cars or other objects along the roadway. Motorists should pay close attention not only at intersections, but along any residential roadways where children could be present. Look for clues of children nearby. Keep an eye out for clues that children are likely nearby, such as AAA School Safety Patrol members, crossing guards, bicycles and playgrounds. Always stop for school buses. For 23 million students, the school day begins and/or ends with a trip on a school bus. The greatest risk they face is not riding the bus, but approaching or leaving it. Flashing yellow lights on a school bus indicate it is preparing to stop to load or unload children, and motorists should slow down and prepare to stop. Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped, and children are getting on and off. Motorists are required to stop their vehicles and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again. Allot extra travel time. Back to school often means increased congestion and longer commute times. Motorists should allot extra travel time when school is in session to avoid any temptation to speed or disobey traffic laws in an effort to “catch up” after being delayed. Review your travel route. Motorists should consider modifying their travel route to avoid school zones and residential neighborhoods. A slightly longer route might actually be quicker by avoiding congestion and much lower speed limits in and around school zones. Use extra caution in bad weather. Whether in rain, snow, fog or other inclement weather, motorists should use extra caution. Reduced visibility can make it difficult for motorists to see children and for children to see vehicles. It also can make it difficult to perform quick stops, if needed. Use headlights. Turning on a vehicle’s daytime running lights or headlights, even during the day, can make the vehicle more easily seen by children and other drivers. Just don’t forget to turn them off when you reach your destination to maintain your battery life.

To get more information about how to keep young students safe as they return to school, visit AAA Northern California offers a wide array of automotive, travel, insurance, DMV, financial services and consumer discounts to nearly 4 million members. AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers since it was founded more than 100 years ago. ###