Students and Drivers Urged to Stay Alert: Walk Smart – Drive Smart
(August 20, 2019) – As families across Maryland prepare for the start of the school year, the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) joined AAA Mid-Atlantic at Summit Park Elementary School to remind drivers and pedestrians that everyone has a role in keeping Maryland’s youngest commuters safe. As grade school students walk to bus stops, stand along roads and walk to school, drivers need to pay attention for pedestrians. Together with representatives from MDOT SHA, AAA, Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA) Highway Safety Office, Baltimore County Police and Baltimore County Public Schools, Summit Park Principal Mrs. Sheila Thomas and students issued an important message to both pedestrians and drivers to “Look Up, Look Out” and stay alert!
“We are now entering back to school time, and we urge everyone to be vigilant in thinking about safety to ensure our youngest commuters are safe this school year. There is no competition between a vehicle and a child. As we should all do every day, please put down devices, avoid distractions, obey speed limits and look out for each other so everyone can make it home safely,” said MDOT SHA Administrator Greg Slater.
Baltimore County Public Schools will reopen on Tuesday, September 3. Nearly 114,000 students will be returning to school that day and 25 percent of those students are walkers and car riders. Parents should review pedestrian safety practices with all students as they prepare to navigate roadways and drop off zones. 
“As thousands of students across the state return to school in the coming weeks, AAA is reminding motorists of the importance of not driving intexticated,” said Ragina C. Ali, Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Whether it’s texting, calling, navigating or some other distraction, motorists need to be vigilant and focused especially around school zones to keep pedestrians and our children safe.”
AAA Mid-Atlantic launched its “Don’t Drive Intoxicated- Don’t Drive Intexticated” public education and awareness campaign earlier this year. The initiative seeks to make distracted driving as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving.  It targets drivers who would never consider getting behind the wheel after drinking a beer or any other alcoholic beverage and, yet, will regularly use mobile devices while driving, dangerously taking their eyes and minds off the road.
Last year, 133 pedestrians were killed in Maryland and 214 school-aged children were injured while walking during school arrival and dismissal times. Through the three “Es” of safety -- education, engineering and enforcement, State, local and private partners are focused on preventing pedestrian crashes.
The “Look Up, Look Out” campaign is an educational initiative that reminds travelers that pedestrian safety is a two-way street, urging both drivers and pedestrians to make safe, smart choices on the road. The effort includes public-service announcements, billboards, community outreach and social media efforts. This month, MDOT SHA will partner with Chick-Fil-A and distribute more than 6,000 backpacks with reflective strips and educational information. To keep the message in front of our youngest pedestrians, MDOT SHA has partnered with the Baltimore Orioles for a Take the Bird to School Contest in coordination with its Walk Smart assemblies.  Parents are encouraged to use the hashtag #bird2school through Oct. 4, 2019, to enter their child’s public elementary school for a chance to win.
Additionally in schools, AAA’s School Safety Patrol Program plays a role in helping classmates get to and from the school building safely by assisting at crosswalks, carpool areas, bus loading and unloading zones, as well as inside schools. AAA’s School Safety Patrol began in 1920.  Over 600,000 children participate nationally and over 93,000 patrols alone are in the Mid-Atlantic region.  The elementary school-targeted program relies on student volunteers trained by a Traffic Safety Manager with the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education and are supervised by an elementary school staffer – typically a teacher.  The national program is available in AAA Mid-Atlantic’s five-state and Washington, D.C. region.  Patrollers receive comprehensive training in the fundamentals of traffic safety, working in many cases, with local law enforcement.  They do not direct traffic, but they help students understand when it is safe to enter roadways.
AAA’s School’s Open—Drive Carefully national campaign aims to help reduce the number of school-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities by encouraging motorists to stay alert in school zones, as well as in residential areas where children are present heading to and from school.  The campaign utilizes posters, magnets, bumper stickers, handouts, media outreach and other community initiatives to reach motorists.
MDOT SHA and partners reminds pedestrians and drivers to:
For pedestrians:
• Use sidewalks and marked crosswalks whenever possible.
• Press the pedestrian signal button and wait for the walk signal.
• Always stop at the curb and look left, right and left again before crossing a street.
• Watch for cars turning in or leaving driveways.
• Walk, don’t run across the street.
• Wear light or bright colored clothing.
• Pay attention -- take off headphones while walking and no texting or playing games.
For drivers:
• Always stop for pedestrians.
• Obey traffic signs, signals and markings.
• Observe posted speed limits. Speeding only makes it more difficult to stop for pedestrians.
• Keep your eyes on the road. It’s illegal to use a handheld phone/devise or text while driving.
• When a school bus stops, the flashing red lights go on and the stop sign flaps come out, drivers in BOTH directions are required to stop. This is the most dangerous time as children getting on or off the bus. 
• It is against the law to pass a stopped school bus with its flashing red lights activated and stop arm extended.
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