Fall is coming. You know what time it is. Back to school season means more traffic for us commuters, and more opportunities for not-so-safe situations on the road. It seems everyone gets lazy during the summer months and fall brings around many traffic incidents and accidents. Parents are in a hurry to drop kids off on their way to work. Children run around and may jump into the road. More people, in general, are back on the road after being off for a few months. Let’s take a moment to think about back to school safety and specifically driving safety.
Back to school season means more children become pedestrians, whether that is near a school bus pick-up location or school crosswalks. We already know that pedestrians have the right of way, and us drivers need to be vigilant in observing intersections.
Children bring quite a bit more uncertainty and unpredictability to intersections. They don’t always look both ways. They don’t always wait for the crosswalk signal to say “walk.” And of course, children are short, so sometimes are hard to spot.
Especially during back-to-school season, drivers need to exercise extreme caution and watch for these situations not just in school zones, but around residential areas and parks.
School Bus Safety
It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus while it is loading or unloading children. When the school bus is stopped with the yellow or red flashing lights and stop sign up, drivers must stop and wait.
Children are in danger of being hit in the 10-foot region around the school bus, so stop your vehicle far enough to allow the space around the bus to be exited safely. Give as much space as you can and wait until the bus has moved before continuing driving.
Give extra following distance when driving behind a bus, more than you would for a regular vehicle. This added distance will give you more room and more time to stop.
Dropping off your children
Schools may have their own drop-off rules so be sure you are aware of them. Don’t double park or block a crosswalk. Always stop for a crossing guard and pedestrians crossing the intersection. Never pass a vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians.
Do not talk on cell phones in a school zone. Be extra alert as children are not.
Watch for Bicyclists
People riding a bicycle pose an additional risk as they are hard to see when they share the road with vehicles. Not all roads have dedicated bike lanes. Drivers need to be extra cautious when turning and changing lanes near schools and residential areas.
Watch for bikes around parked cars and coming down driveways. Check mirrors before opening doors.
Staying alert and exercising caution can help everyone arrive safely during this back-to-school transition.