It is the end of August and schools across the county will soon be back in full swing. Along with busy ball fields and jungle gyms will come more kids running across the street and a plethora of yellow school buses on the highways. With this in mind, it’s a great opportunity for drivers everywhere to brush up on a couple of back to school driving tips:
Respect The Bus
Imagine being in a large car with 40 noisy 6th-graders. Could be pretty stressful. Do your part and make the bus drivers’ lives easier.
Did you know that more bus passengers are killed while unloading or loading each year than are killed while traveling inside a school bus? When a school bus stops with its red brake lights flashing and/or its stop sign raised, you must stop from either direction until all kids are safely across the street and the bus lights stop flashing (unless the school bus is stopped on the other side of a multilane or divided highway).
Also, don’t tailgate a bus as they often make sudden stops when least expected. Finally, when a school bus is trying to merge back into traffic, you must give them the right of way.
School Zone Ahead
Have your foot covering the brake pedal and your eyes scanning the road when entering a marked school zone. When children are at hand, school zones require you to obey the posted 25mph or slower speed limit, regardless of the day of week or time of day. For example, if it’s a Friday night at 10pm and you are in a school zone when kids are present (maybe a football game just ended), you are still required to adjust your speed to obey the slower school zone speed limit.
When you slow down for pedestrians, you not only make yourself a safer driver, but you also help other drivers who may not see the obstacles you do. When they see you slowing down, their natural intuition will kick in and they too will slow down to see what potential hazard may lie ahead.
Crosswalks, Double Check Them!
Now that kids will be back on their way to school, it’s time to double and triple check those intersections; just when you think it’s all systems go, a late for school student will magically appear out of nowhere and dart across the street when you least anticipate it. Making, full stops at stop signs and red-lights before turning right will give you the time you need to be completely sure the coast is clear before you enter a cross walk.
Drivers should not block the cross walk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn. Do not stop with a portion of your vehicle over the cross walk. Blocking the cross walk forces pedestrians to go around your vehicle and puts them in a dangerous situation.
Always stop when directed to do so by a school patrol sign, school patrol officer or designated crossing guard.
Children are the least predictable pedestrians and the most difficult to see. Take extra care to look out for children not only in school zones, but also in residential areas, playgrounds and
parks. Don’t honk your horn, rev your engine or do anything to rush or scare a pedestrian in front of your car, even if you have the legal right-of-way.
Near high school campuses, bear in mind that a higher amount of the motorists are newly licensed teenage drivers who may not have as much driving know-how as you do.
For more on what you can do to keep school children safe, including child pedestrians and bicyclists, check out the National Safety Council’s “Back to School Safety Tips for Motorists.”