Drivers Urged To Watch Out For Kids As Pedestrian Toll Triples

Tens of thousands of kids return to school this week, but with the excitement comes a very serious warning.

Drivers are being urged to slow down and stay vigilant around school zones as term three kicks off.

The plea comes as the road toll in South Australia soars to 65.

Among the dead are 13 pedestrians, triple the number of deaths than the same time last year.

The Royal Automobile Association Of South Australia (RAA) senior manager of road safety Charles Mountain said pedestrians are particularly vulnerable in road collisions.

“Motorists should expect extra activity on the roads, particularly near schools, as most students head back to the classroom today,’’ he said.

A school zone at Norwood Primary School in Adelaide. Photo: Kelly Barnes/ AAP

Mountain advised drivers to allow more travel time, particularly around the major roadworks.

“Motorists must stick to the 25km/h when travelling through schools zones when students are present and watch out for car doors opening,’’ he continued.

Children are also being encouraged to wear high-visibility or bags to ensure they stand out.

“Remember parked vehicles can make it harder for drivers to spot younger children trying to cross the road.”

Police figures reveal that 430 pedestrians were injured -- many seriously -- in 2018.

In a bid to drive that figure down, officers will be out in force and for the first time operation Return to School will run for two days to ensure the safety message sinks in.

Australian schoolboy crossing the road. Photo: Getty

"In addition to weather conditions at this time of year that can make visibility challenging for motorists, the behaviour of children can be less predictable than adults and they can make errors of judgement when dealing with traffic," Superintendent Bob Gray said.

Officers will be paying close attention to school zones in the morning and the afternoon, state-wide.

It's not just South Australia's road toll that has spiked this year, national figures are also up.

READ MORE: One-In-Three Pedestrians 'Playing Chicken' With Traffic

As of June 2019, there were 635 deaths on our roads nationwide, that is 77 deaths higher -- or 13.8 percent -- than the same period last year.

“Although the school run can be a rush and filled with distractions, remember to watch out for pedestrians when turning left and right at road intersections and give way to them," Mountain said.

“As commuters, parents and caregivers, if we all do our bit to put children’s safety first, together we can ensure term three starts safety."