The beginning of August fast approaches, and that means that summer is ending for students across the country. With the start of school comes increased road traffic from school buses and teen drivers, as well as plenty of children on bicycles, and young pedestrians hurrying to get to and from school.
Safe driving can save lives. Slowing down and paying extra attention to your surroundings, especially when you’re near a school, can help avoid tragedies. The National Safety Council has published a few recommendations to help make sure that back to school season is safe for everyone.
If you’re dropping kids off at school in the morning, or picking them up from school at the end of the day make sure that you know the drop-off procedures for the school. In addition:
- Avoid double parking; double parking decreases visibility for other drivers and children
- Consider carpooling to reduce the number of vehicles at the school during busy times.
Most children that lose their lives in bus-related incidents are only 4 to 7 years old. They are often walking to or from school, and they are either hit by the bus or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. Here are some easy ways to keep young pedestrians safe:
- Don’t block crosswalks when you’re stopped at a red light; forcing a pedestrian to go around your vehicle could put them in harm’s way
- Stop and yield to pedestrians in school zones, as well as school patrol officers or crossing guards holding up a stop sign
- Take extra care to look out for children in parks, residential areas and school zones; young children may not always pay attention before running out into the street
If you find yourself behind a bus be sure to follow behind them further back than you normally would follow behind a car. Buses and other large vehicles take longer to come to a stop, and school buses make frequent stops to drop off and pick up children. Keep in mind:
- It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to pick up or drop off children
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children, make sure you leave plenty of room for children to safely enter and exit a school bus
- Be alert; children are unpredictable and tend to ignore road hazards and traffic
Children riding bikes can create special problems for drivers because children are often not good at judging traffic conditions. You’ll need to be their eyes, and make sure that you’re being cautious for them. Here are some easy tips to do that:
- When passing a person on a bike, slow down and leave about three feet between your car and the cyclist
- Always wait for a bicyclist to pass you before you make a left or right turn, and be sure to always use your turn signals
- Follow a safe distance behind young bicyclists, they may turn in front of you without looking or signaling
- Always keep your eyes open for young bicyclists when you’re driving in school zones or residential areas, as well as near parks
- Check your side mirrors before opening your door
As kids get back to school during the month of August, following these recommendations will keep the roads safe for kids and adults.