School is about to be back in session. While not all school districts have chosen to go back to school ‘in-person’, opting for virtual school options instead, other districts will be opening their doors to welcome back students soon. What that means for drivers is an increase in potential hazards such as children on buses, children walking or riding their bicycles, and stressed out parents in cars. Ultimately, back to school can be dangerous for pedestrians (most typically children) as well as for drivers. It is for this reason we have compiled a list of 13 back to school safety tips for drivers.
Driving Safely When You See a School Bus
1. When the bus stops, you stop. Do not go around the bus while it is stopped picking up or dropping off children. Most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are hit by a motorist passing a bus that’s stopped to load or unload children, which is illegal in all 50 states yet happens every single school year.
2. When driving behind a school bus give yourself a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. You should allow for at least three car lengths.
3. Watch for the flashing lights on a bus. These lights warn drivers of the bus’s impending stop. Treat yellow flashing lights the same as a yellow stop light and decrease your speed. Stop when you see red flashing lights.
4. The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough away to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus.
Driving While in a School Zone
5. Slow down and drive extra cautiously, especially around parked cars.
6. Don’t load/unload children across the street from the school but instead give yourself time to go through the line for the safety of your children.
7. Don’t double park as it blocks visibility for other children and cars, potentially putting other lives in danger.
8. When flashers are blinking, do stop and yield to pedestrians who are crossing the crosswalk or intersection.
9. Know that children appear from the most unexpected places, so be aware & prepared. Note: they especially seem to pop out from in-between parked cars!
10. Do not use your phone unless you are pulled over, this is for your safety as well as for the safety of pedestrians and other drivers on the road.
11. Watch for kids who are looking at their phones rather than paying attention to where they are waling.
12. Whenever possible, carpool as it will reduce the number of cars at school.
13. Do not block a crosswalk as it forces pedestrians to go around you, which could put them in the path of on-coming traffic.
While these 13 tips are helpful reminders to drivers on back to school safety, it is a good idea if you have a child who walk, rides a bike, or rides a bus to go over additional safety measures with them. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has an online list of bus safety items to review with your child. This school year, unlike any we have had before, presents its own unique challenges and issues. Let’s all be safe and alert drivers while traveling to and from school, so as not to add any extra undue stress to an already hectic time of year.