Back to School Safety times for Drivers

Back to School: Safety Tips for Drivers

Back to School Safety Tips

Back to School Safety times for Drivers

School is back in session and it’s a good idea to refresh your child’s safety skills. When kids go back to school, there is often more traffic congestion, and it’s essential for drivers to stay alert and vigilant on the road. In 2021, there were 108 fatalities caused by school-bus-related accidents across the United States. This number is up 50% compared to 54 deaths in 2020. From watching for pedestrians to leaving space for school buses, it’s important to prioritize the well-being of students and road users alike. Here are some vital back-to-school safety tips for drivers.

Avoid Distractions on the Road

Avoid distractions while driving, such as texting, talking on the phone, or conversing with a passenger, as these kinds of activities divert your attention from the road. Distracted driving is a leading cause of auto accidents. In 2021, there were 3,522 people who lost their lives in crashes involving distracted driving.

It’s best to minimize distractions in your vehicle. For example, you can put your cell phone away, program your GPS before you start driving, and refrain from engaging in activities that take your eyes off the road.

Exercise Caution in School Zones

school zone sign

School zones have reduced speed limits for a reason – children are often present, crossing streets and walking along sidewalks. Always adhere to the posted speed limit in a school zone, and be prepared to stop suddenly if necessary. Children might not always follow traffic rules entirely, so it’s up to drivers to exercise extra caution and ensure the safety of all road users.

Watch for Crossing Guards

Crossing guards play a crucial role in helping people navigate busy crosswalks and intersections, especially near schools. They are there to guide pedestrians and help ensure their safety. Crossing guards wear high-visibility clothing such as bright, reflective vests and they usually have a stop sign in their hand.

If you see a crossing guard, anticipate that children are likely to cross the street, so come to a complete stop when required and wait for their signal to proceed. Always be attentive to crossing guard signals and follow their instructions.

Look for Pedestrians and Bicyclists

During the back-to-school season, the number of pedestrians and bicyclists on the road increases significantly. Children may be walking or biking to school, and it’s essential to be extra cautious in a school zone. Scan intersections and crosswalks carefully, and be prepared to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. When passing cyclists, slow down and give them ample space.

Leave Space for School Buses

bus stop

There are more school buses on the road during the school year, and they make frequent stops to pick up and drop off students. State laws for school bus stopping can very, but generally you should:

  • Ensure you give school buses plenty of space.
  • Slow down if the bus’s yellow lights are flashing – this indicates that it is preparing to stop.
  • Be prepared to stop when the bus’s red lights are flashing and its stop arm is extended.
  • Wait behind the bus while it is loading or unloading children.
  • Remain stopped until the bus driver retracts the stop sign and deactivates the red warning lights.

Typically, school bus signals must be obeyed in both lanes of traffic, however, this can vary depending on your jurisdiction. Creating a safe buffer zone around school buses where students can cross the street freely can help prevents accidents.

Don’t Pass a Stopped School Bus

Passing a stopped school bus is extremely dangerous and it is typically illegal. When a school bus stops to load or unload children, kids often cross streets. Even if you are on the opposite side of the road, be sure to stop and wait until the bus’s red lights stop flashing and its stop sign folds back. Failure to adhere to this rule puts children’s lives at risk and there can be legal implications.

 

Back to School Safety Tips for Children

Teaching children about road safety is a collaborative effort between parents, schools, and communities. Parents should reinforce the importance of using crosswalks, looking both ways before crossing the street, and avoiding distractions.

Visibility is crucial, especially during early mornings or late afternoons. Children can enhance their visibility to drivers by wearing bright clothing or reflective accessories. Encourage kids to walk in groups and stay on sidewalks whenever possible.

If You’re Dropping Kids Off

  • If you’re dropping off your kids at school, follow the designated drop-off procedures.
  • Avoid double parking, as it can obstruct visibility and create hazards.
  • If there’s a designated drop-off zone, use it appropriately. If not, find a legal parking spot to let your children exit the vehicle safely.
  • Encourage your kids to exit on the curbside of the car to minimize their exposure to traffic.

Walking to School

Teach your children to choose the safest walking route, which may include crosswalks, sidewalks, and pedestrian-friendly areas. Walk with your kids until they are familiar with the route and help them identify potential dangers to look out for. Emphasize the importance of looking left and right before crossing streets and making eye contact with drivers before stepping onto the road.

Riding a Bike to School

child riding a bike

Biking to school can be great exercise, however, it requires proper safety measures.

  • Ensure your child wears a well-fitting helmet and knows the traffic laws.
  • Use bike lanes when available and teach your child bicycle signals.
  • Remind children to be cautious around parked cars because a car door could open suddenly, knocking them off their bikes.
  • It’s best to exercise caution around parking lots and driveways as vehicles may suddenly back up, enter or exit a parking lot.
  • It’s generally recommended for people to walk their bikes across busy intersections.

Riding the Bus to School

School buses are generally a safe mode of transportation, but children still need guidance on how to stay safe while waiting for the bus, getting on the bus, and exiting the bus. Teach your child to stand at a safe distance from the road while waiting for the bus and to follow the driver’s instructions for boarding and onboarding. If your child needs to cross the road after exiting the bus, ensure they understand the importance of waiting for the bus driver’s signal and looking both ways before crossing.

 

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