As summer vacation comes to a close, the crisp fall wind stirs up a new kind of excitement: Back-to-School season! Alongside the hustle and bustle of school books and afterschool sports, crowded crosswalks and big yellow school buses start to take their places. This time of year can pose some seasonal safety hazards that everyone should be aware of. If you’re going to be traveling the streets by car this school year, here are some important things to remember to make sure everyone remains safe on the roads:
- Patience is a Virtue – Children are crossing the streets, workers are helping them do so safely, teenagers are on their bicycles and buses are all around. During the school season it’s extra important not to:
- Pass other vehicles or school busses to get around them.
- Rush through red lights or stop signs so that you don’t get ‘stuck’.
- Double-park in the school drop off zone to avoid waiting in line.
- Park across the street and make your kids walk across to the school to save time.
Any of these actions could prevent you or another motorist from seeing another vehicle, bicyclist or pedestrian. If you’re concerned about having an extended commute, make an effort to leave your house earlier and avoid overscheduling yourself so that you’re not rushing between destinations.
- Pay Close Attention – With all of the extra activity on the roads, it can be easy to miss something if you’re not paying close attention. Keep your eyes on the road and stay alert at all times. Be aware of when a school bus ahead of you is slowing to a stop, watch for bikes crossing the road or riding on the shoulder, and remain mindful of children walking on sidewalks as they can sometimes be unpredictable. To avoid distractions on your drive:
- Keep your cell phone on do not disturb your entire drive and avoid checking it until you’ve reached your destination.
- Keep the radio at a volume where you can hear someone yelling outside of the vehicle.
- Set any GPS devices to your destination before pulling out of your driveway.
- Make sure that your mirrors and seat are comfortably positioned before moving.
- Know Your School’s Regulations – Whether you have a child in school or not, it’s important to be aware of the school’s drop off and pickup locations and procedures as well as the start and release times. Also be aware of the speed limit in the school zone and where the school zone perimeter is. This allows all motorists on the road to work together without causing roadblocks, frustration and potentially dangerous situations. It also gives you a good indication as to when the roads will be busiest so that you can be aware of large groups of pedestrians and plan alternatives routes to your destinations if necessary.
- Watch Where You Stop – When a school bus stops to let children on and off of it, all vehicles should be stopped a minimum of ten feet away from the bus. You can create a safe environment by avoiding following the bus too closely and staying alert to when the bus begins to slow down for a stop. Similarly, it’s important to never stop your vehicle in the middle of a crosswalk as it forces pedestrians to stray from the crosswalk putting them in unnecessary danger.
Have a safe and happy school year!