School is back in session, and that means it’s time to mentally prepare for the delays that inevitably come from sharing the road with buses, teen drivers, more kids walking on sidewalks and roadways, and bicyclists. Patience is an absolute necessity, but there are many other things you can do to heighten your awareness and avoid collisions with the most vulnerable people we will share the roads with – children. It is important for all of us to be aware of back to school safety tips for sharing the road with students.
Children Walking to School and Bus Stops
The roadways and sidewalks are about to be crammed with kids walking from their homes to their bus stops or directly to school. Here are two disturbing statistics:
- More children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location
- Most children who are killed by buses are between 4 and 7 years old and are walking at the time
Remember that children are unpredictable. They are simply not very aware of the dangers of cars and other vehicles. They may be playing a game on their walk to school and dart out from behind bushes or parked cars. They may be using smart phones while they’re walking. Because they are in familiar surroundings, they may feel comfortable and not pay attention while crossing the street.
Follow these back to school safety tips when picking up or dropping off children at school:
- Drop off as close to the school as possible. Select a place that does not force them to cross the street.
- Don’t double park. This creates a major hazard with the chaos of buses, other drivers, and walkers.
- Carpool with other parents to reduce the number of vehicles approaching the school at any given time.
When encountering children walking, keep the following guidelines in mind so that everyone stays safe:
- Always stop for a crossing guard holding up a sign, even when there may not be a crosswalk.
- Stop well before the crosswalk at lights or stop signs so that pedestrians don’t need to weave in and around vehicles.
- When driving through a school zone at peak times, stop and yield to any pedestrians crossing the street in crosswalks or at intersections. Times will be indicated on signs that may have flashing lights on them.
- Never attempt to intimidate pedestrians by honking your horn or revving your engine, even if you think you have the right of way.
- Never pass another vehicle that is yielding to pedestrians.
Sharing the Road with Teen Drivers
Statistics show that the number of teenage drivers is increasing, which is likely due in part to increasing employment among teenagers. With school back in session, those numbers will only increase. When the school year begins, you are more likely to encounter teenage drivers — especially if you are dropping children off at school yourself or if you live in a residential area that has one or more schools nearby.
Teenage drivers have the highest crash rate per mile traveled than any other age group. Driver inexperience, the tendency to be easily distracted, and the use of cell phones all contribute to the high incidence of driver error typical among teen drivers.
Your best defense against inexperienced and distracted drivers is awareness. Keep in mind that any driver you share the road with may be texting, talking on the phone, looking at pictures on their phone, or fiddling with their playlist at any given time. This means that you must be extra vigilant. When you are in and around school grounds where there are plenty of teen drivers, these distractions may be even more prevalent.
More School Buses on the Road
School buses require the respect of every driver on the road. Why? They are, of course, carrying many children at any given time, so drivers who are not particularly careful could easily wind up injuring them. A little extra attention around school buses and following basic back to school safety tips will protect both you and the children who are riding them.
The recommended following distance for school buses is 10 feet. As you’ve no doubt experienced, buses may stop every minute or two where their routes are particularly busy. Remember that a bus’s blind spot is quite long due to its size, so take extra time when you are preparing to switch lanes.
The most important rule in sharing the road with buses is that you never want to pass a bus that has its stop sign out, flashing lights on, and/or that is stopped to load or unload children. It is illegal in all 50 states to do so. Some buses are fitted with stop signs that have flashing lights. Flashing yellow lights indicate that the bus is slowing down and preparing to stop; flashing red lights mean that you absolutely may not pass the bus until the children have boarded or unloaded.
Back to School Safety – Young Biyclists
Bicyclists are often more dangerous and unpredictable on the road than pedestrians. While legally they have to follow the same rules as drivers, they often don’t. They may be more inclined to ignore stop signs and traffic lights, and they tend to appear from behind parked cars or dart out of driveways with little to no warning.
Children on bikes present an even greater danger than adults, because they lack familiarity with traffic patterns and rules. When driving in school zones (and in general), follow these back to school safety guidelines:
- When you need to pass a bicyclist, maintain a slow, even speed, and stay at least three feet away from the bike.
- Always use your turn signals so that bicyclists can anticipate your movements.
- Yield to bicyclists who are turning, whether they are approaching opposite from your vehicle or coming from behind.
- Expect children on bikes to do unexpected things; they may stop or turn without notice.
Need a Personal Injury Lawyer in Delaware County or the Surrounding Areas?
School should be a completely safe place for your child, but parents can’t always prevent accidents from happening. If your child has been the victim of a reckless or irresponsible driver, whether traveling by bus, on foot, by bike, or as a teen driver, call us today. Accident litigation is one of our specialties, and our attorneys fight hard for the compensation you and your loved ones deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.