While school is back in session teachers across Ahwatukee are stressing that academics are key components that should be instilled in each student while on campus.

However, when the final bell rings and students are exiting their schools, nothing is more important than safely getting off the school grounds.

That’s why each year when school is back in session AAA Arizona likes to remind motorists of the importance of using extra caution in and around school zones.

Michelle Donati, public affairs supervisor for AAA Arizona, also added the safety tips they issue out are reminders for parents on basic school safety tips because there is so much excitement during the first weeks of the school year.

“Even if your child isn’t new to the school, just sitting down and going over some of the reminders it can help them stay safe as they start the new school year,” Donati said.

Staying safe

Some of the safety tips consist of reviewing safety precautions while walking to and from school. Children should use designated crosswalks in the area and never stop in the middle of a home’s driveway.

It’s also imperative for students who are biking to and from school to wear standard protective gear such as a helmet.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety the use of a helmet can reduce any potential head injury while bicycling by 85 percent, Donati said.

Donati added that students should avoid walking in between parked cars due to the fact that often times students don’t realize that just because they can see the driver doesn’t mean the driver can see them.

“Once they get near the school it’s important to remind them to always obey the school crossing guards,” Donati said.

AAA Arizona also informs motorists who are commuting through school zones should be aware of school safety by avoiding distractions such as any electronic devices and reminds motorists that taking their eyes of the road for a minimal of two seconds can potentially double the chances of causing an accident.

The second reminder AAA Arizona wants to inform motorists is to abide by any school zone speed limits, considering fines double when they are not being followed.

“Slowing down is going to be key in making sure you can see any children who are darting across the street or a child who gets caught up in that excitement, and it can also help avoid tickets and hefty fines,” Donati said.

Kyrene Estrella Elementary School crossing guard Judy Cotharin also tries to stress to parents and students when entering school grounds the crosswalk should be used at all times.

Cotharin has been a crossing guard for almost a year at Estrella Elementary School and has had her fair share of situations when trying to instructor safety.

She has situations during the day where parents try to drop their kids off in the middle of the street, and when those situations occur Cotharin informs faculty members to speak with the parents about school safety.

Before school was in session Cotharin attended a crossing guard seminar hosted by Maricopa County where she was taught different safety guidelines.

“As far as for parents I can’t stress how important it is they show their children the right way to cross the road. Use the crosswalk, they’re out there for a reason, and we are out there for a reason,” Cotharin said. “Just help the kids not to run across the crosswalk.”

One of the biggest safety tips Cotharin has been trying to teach the students is to not enter the crosswalk until she instructs them to.

Many times she has dealt with excited kids running across the crosswalk before she gives them the OK, and she wants to make sure motorists are at a complete stop.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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