School days bring congestion, distraction and stress to our roads. Buses are picking up their passengers, kids on bikes are hurrying to make it to school before the bell. Harried parents are trying to drop their kids off before work.
So, as you are getting back into the school routine, remember that it’s critical for drivers to slow down and pay attention when kids are present — especially before and after school.
If you’re dropping off
Many schools have very specific drop-off procedures for the school year. Make sure you are aware of school procedures and follow them for the safety of all kids. The following apply to all school zones:
- Don’t double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles.
- Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school.
- Carpool when possible to reduce the number of vehicles at the school.
Sharing the road with young pedestrians
According to research by the National Safety Council, most children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they’re walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. A few precautions go a long way toward keeping children safe:
- Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic.
- In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection.
- Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign.
- Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas.
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
Sharing the road with school buses
If you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
- Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children.
- If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop.
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow kids space to safely enter and exit the bus.
- Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks.
Remember, it doesn’t matter who you think has the right of way, always exercise extreme caution when driving in school zones.
For more information about back-to-school safety, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.