The Minnesota Highway Patrol has mentioned that we all need to slow down on the interstates, and Police are saying people are getting more tickets in residential areas.

AAA has become part of the organizations that are echoing the warning to slow down and become more aware. Kids are playing, sometimes in the street, and motorists need to be extra cautious around streets, yards, playgrounds, and neighborhoods. With kids getting back to school, that adds an extra danger for children.

AAA says according to government data, traffic-related pedestrian deaths have spiked 46 percent over the past decade. According to the stats they have, 20 percent of children ages 14 and younger killed in traffic crashes involving pedestrians.

To help raise awareness and to advise drivers to be alert, AAA’s Duluth branch is distributing free “Slow Down, Watch for Kids” yard signs. When I talked to Meredith Mitts a AAA representative for the Greater Minnesota and Duluth Region, she said AAA is hoping to raise awareness for people to slow down and drive carefully, especially where children were involved.

The signs are free and can be picked up at the Duluth office at  2520 Maple Grove Rd during regular office hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, while supplies last. AAA membership is not required. The signs are not available in Wisconsin.

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Merideth said that children are the most unpredictable of all pedestrians.  They are also the smallest and most uneducated. So here are a few tips from the AAA website:

  • Be prepared when in neighborhoods or driving by parks. Children can unexpectedly run out into the street.

  • Be vigilant when backing out of driveways and turning onto residential streets, children can be playing in hard to see places.

  • Follow posted speed limits at all times, especially in areas that have lower speed limits, such as school zones and neighborhood streets where children may appear suddenly.

  • Stay Alert – Avoid Distractions – Put down your phone. Smartphones and handheld electronic devices take your eyes off of the road and distract your attention.

  • Always stop when a school bus has its stop sign out.  Unless you are on a divided highway, traffic in both directions must stop for a school bus that has its stop sign out. If you are on the other side of a divided highway, still use caution as there are children around.

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