Back to School! 5 Tips for Safe Driving

Safer Drivers, Safer Children - Back to School Driving Tips

The summer heat is still at full blast and the memories of your summer vacation may still be fresh in your mind. However, as you drive down the road enjoying the afternoon breeze there may be something you’ve forgotten during these golden summer months: school zones. Yes, schools are opening again. For drivers, that means being aware of children making their daily trips to and from class.

Over the summer you didn’t need to worry as much about young children crossing streets, walking home, or getting onto school buses. But now all the students are back in class, and as millions of children every day walk or bike to school, additional safety concerns have popped up again.

Most children who are killed in bus-related accidents are between 4 and 7 years of age. However, those children aren’t generally on a bus – they’re walking and are hit by an unaware motorist – either a bus driver or the driver of a car who passed a stopped bus. 

How can you keep children safe, and as a bonus avoid getting expensive tickets?

1. Reduce traffic at schools

When dropping children off or picking them up, be aware of the dangers. Pay attention to all indications from school staff as to where you can pick up children. If there’s a specified off-site area for vehicles to pick up children, use that site. Avoid double parking, which makes it harder to see children as well as other vehicles. Consider carpooling so that fewer vehicles have to approach school buildings at peak hours.

2. When passing through a school zone

The speed limit in a school zone may seem agonizingly slow, but it’s the safe speed. If an unfortunate accident were to happen, chances of survival will be higher. Be aware of the speed limit in school zones and the time of day when they’re in effect.

3. When sharing the road with a school bus

You may dread getting stuck behind a school bus that goes slow and stops frequently. However, be patient with these buses that provide an important service, and remember that throughout the United States it is illegal to pass a school bus that is picking up or dropping off children. How do you know if children will be getting on or off the bus? The yellow or red lights will be flashing and the stop arm will be extended. Keep a distance between your vehicle and the bus so that children have enough room to walk.

4. When approaching a crosswalk

Remember that it is your responsibility as a driver to yield to pedestrians – not the other way around.

Avoid blocking crosswalks when stopped at a red light. Pedestrians will have no other choice but to exit the crosswalk and can be exposed to moving vehicles

Don’t pass other vehicles that have stopped at a crosswalk to let pedestrians pass. The pedestrians might not be aware that another vehicle is coming their way

Keep an eye out for crossing guards, and follow their instructions

5. When on the road with a bicyclist

Remember that children on bicycles don’t have the practice and ability – as well as the thinking ability – that an adult has. This means they can be shaky riders, make rash decisions, and may not follow traffic laws. Give them plenty of room, pass them at a slower speed, and watch for any unexpected turns.

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