School-BusMost Iowa schools are back in session and the state’s streets and sidewalks are filled with excited kids in the mornings and afternoons. Rose White, at AAA-Iowa, is cautioning drivers statewide to stay watchful for children on foot as they might suddenly dart into the road.

“AAA is urging all motorists to simply slow down and stay alert in neighborhoods and school zones,” White says, “and be especially vigilant for pedestrians before, during and after school hours.” During 2013, a national study found more than 330 child pedestrians were killed and 13-thousand were injured, with more than half of the deaths happening during the times kids were heading to and from school.

“The afternoon hours are particularly dangerous for walking children,” White says. “Over the last decade, nearly one-third of children pedestrian fatalities occurred between the hours of 3 to 7 P.M.” Speed is a big factor in saving lives. Research finds a pedestrian who’s hit by a vehicle traveling 25 miles-an-hour is two-thirds less likely to be killed than a vehicle traveling at 35.

“In Iowa, there has been a steady decline in pedestrian crashes for all ages groups, but it’s not the case for young pedestrians,” White says. “In 2013, a total of 54 young pedestrians were injured in car crashes. Tragically, three of them lost their lives.”

Another key is to eliminate distractions for drivers. White says to avoid any activities that take even one hand off the steering wheel, and avoid using your cell phone by putting it in a safe place — like the glove box — until you arrive at your destination.