School’s back in session! Taking the kiddos to school can mean bus stops, crosswalks, and kids on bikes. During before and after school activities and pickups, drivers need to be super careful and on high alert. School zone driving safety isn’t just up to families with children in school; it’s up to everyone to keep the roads and zones safe.
In a school zone, you have a ton to think about. From other parent drivers to kids on their way to and from class, a lot is going on. Not only do you need to think about your safety, but you also need to create a safe environment for those around you. Let’s take a look at a few tips that can keep you and your loved ones safe.
Load and unload kids in designated areas. Dropping children off on the street may save you the hassle of sitting in traffic, but this means your loved ones will have to cross the street.
Don’t block a crosswalk or a bus stop. These are designated places that ensure children can travel to and from school safely.
Drive slowly and be on the lookout for kids. It’s not unusual for someone to run out from between two parked cars or ride their bike in your lane, especially when on school property.
Don’t double park, as this could block other drivers’ from seeing kids and other drivers.
Carpool with neighbors and friends. You can reduce the number of vehicles in the school zone this way. Alternating carpool drivers can help give you a break so you can focus on the road in front of you.
Safety Around School Buses
Keeping our kids and community members safe on the way to and from school goes beyond school zone driving safety. Many students ride the bus to and from school instead of being picked up by their families. These children and their safety should be your priority as a driver too. Let’s make sure you know the rules that apply when driving around school buses.
Never pass a school bus, especially when they’re stopped. Kids getting on or off the bus may not always look both ways before crossing the street.
Keep an eye out for a bus’s flashing lights—this signals that the school bus is slowing down and to let children off.
Stay at least 10 feet away from school buses when driving and stopping to allow for extra space for safety.
Sharing the Road with Cyclists
We mentioned that some kids ride their bikes to and from school. The thing about bicycles is that they can go fast, meaning that kids aren’t always focused on the cars around themselves. However, there are some things that you can do to ensure that safety of cyclists on the road.
Keep a safe distance from cyclists. If you’re passing a cyclist, move slowly and leave at least 3 feet between your car and the individual riding the bike.
At intersections, let the cyclist go first. If you’re turning left and a cyclist is coming your way, let them ride through the intersection first. If you’re taking a right and a cyclist is coming up behind you, let them pass you before making your turn.
Keep a watchful eye out for any kids that may ride in front of your car. Be extra careful in school zones and neighborhoods.
Check that no cyclist is coming before you open your car door or back out of a parking spot.
Pedestrian Safety Around Traffic
School property is one place where pedestrians often outnumber drivers. Further, some kids live close to the school and will walk in the mornings and afternoons. Your children (and anyone walking around traffic-congested areas) need to know how to practice their safety tips when on foot. Let’s take a look!
Don’t walk to school distracted. A driver knows to stay off their phone and watch the road. The same applies to pedestrians, especially when crossing the road.
Stick to the sidewalk and crosswalks. Walking in the street or crossing in the middle of the road is dangerous. Make sure that every time you have to cross a line of traffic that you are doing so in a designated area and that drivers can see you.
Look both ways before crossing the street! We all know this one, but do you do it at appointed crosswalks? Take the extra time to make sure you’re alert and safe!
Cyclist Safety Around Traffic
If you have a young one who will be riding his or her bike in traffic, make sure to review these safety tips with them.
Always wear a helmet! Yes, we know that helmets don’t always look cool on, but they could save your life. Consider decorating your helmet if it doesn’t reflect your style.
Wear bright colors to make you more visible to drivers on the road.
Walk your bike across the street. Yes, we know it’s faster to ride your bike across the street, but speed doesn’t always mean that you’ll be able to react accordingly to traffic. Walking your bike across the road ensures that drivers will have more time to see you, and you can anticipate your surroundings.
Use hand signals when turning.
Watch out for cars backing up or anyone opening their car door.