(MDOT SHA photo: MDOT SHA Logo)

Students and Drivers Urged to Stay Alert: Walk Smart – Drive Smart
(August 22, 2017) – 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, Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) and Baltimore County Police at Timber Grove Elementary School to remind drivers and pedestrians that everyone has a role in keeping Maryland’s youngest commuters safe. As school children walk to bus stops, stand along roads and walk to school, drivers need to pay attention for pedestrians. Timber Grove Principal Scott Audlin and students serving as AAA School Safety Patrollers issued an important message reminder to both pedestrians and drivers to “Look Up, Look Out” and stay alert.
“We urge everyone to Look Up Look Out to keep our youngest commuters --  children and students – safe this school year. There is no competition between your vehicle and a child. If everyone follows the rules of the road by putting down their devices, looking up and looking out, everyone will make it home,” said Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administrator Greg Slater.  “Along with educational student assemblies, we are reminding drivers to slow down and pay attention through public service announcements and social media.”
Baltimore County Public Schools will reopen on Tuesday, September 5. “The BCPS Office of Transportation is excited to welcome more than 70,000 students back onto our buses for the new school year. Another 40,000-plus students will use other methods to come to school, including walking and cycling,” said David McCrae, Director of Transportation, Baltimore County Public Schools. “We'd like to take this opportunity, along with our partners here today, to remind all our fellow road users throughout Baltimore County about stopping for school bus red lights and stop arms, as well as generally taking extra care with the return of our students to the sidewalks and crosswalks."
“As Maryland school teachers and parents prepare to begin the new school year, AAA is proud to partner with the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration and Baltimore County officials to remind motorists to be especially vigilant during the morning and afternoon hours when children are going to and from school,” said Ragina C. Averella, Public and Government Affairs Manager at AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “Tragically, more school-age pedestrians have been killed from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. than any other time of the day,” she added. 
Last year, 107 pedestrians were killed and another 3,318 people were injured.  More than 500 of the pedestrians involved in Maryland crashes were age 15 or younger.
Motorists should be aware that enforcement is a key component of traffic safety efforts. “According to the National Safety Council, pedestrian-involved injuries are the second leading cause of death in the United States for children between the ages of 5 to 14 years old,” said Colonel Alexander Jones, Chief of the Baltimore County Police Department’s Operation Bureau. “In response, the Police Department will focus [enforcement efforts] on traffic safety in our school zones and around school buses.”
To continue the Look Up, Look Out pedestrian safety campaign and outreach to children, Chick-Fil-A distributed backpacks with reflective strips and educational information throughout the summer. To keep the message in front of our youngest pedestrians, the Chick-Fil-A cow will be visiting elementary schools as part of a Walk Smart assembly.  Parents were encouraged to enter names of schools in a drawing throughout the summer; winning schools will be announced on September 19, 2017.
Additionally in schools, AAA’s School Safety Patrollers play 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 issues these important reminders for pedestrians and drivers:
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 before crossing a street.
  • Watch for cars turning in or leaving driveways.
  • Walk, don’t run across the street.
  • Wear light or bight colored clothing.
  • Pay attention take off headphones while walking – 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.