by Jennifer Sonntag
School is officially in session. And while kids are brushing up on their math and language arts skills, it’s important for drivers to slow down and keep an eye out for kids around schools and their neighborhoods. Here are some driving tips to keep in mind as kids head back to the classroom.
- School Zones - it’s important to pay attention to the school zone areas around schools. Most often, schools have flashing lights with a posted speed limit sign for school zones during the morning drop off and afternoon dismissal. However, pay close attention during off hours when the lights come on for sports or band practices or other school events. Speeding fines are typically doubled in school zones.
- Bus Safety - Take extra precaution when you’re behind or approaching a school bus. It’s important to give the bus enough space if you’re behind it and to give kids enough space to cross the street, as you’re approaching a bus. Many buses have retractable crossing “arms” that keep kids safely out in front of the bus when crossing the street and visible to other drivers. And remember, it is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
- School Drop Off Procedures- I f you’re a parent and regularly drop kids off to school or take turns in a car pool, it’s important to plan ahead and understand your school’s drop off and pick up procedures. Some general tips to keep in mind from the National Safe Routes to School Program are:
- Don’t double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles
- Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school
- Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school.
- Stay Alert - As a parent or driver around schools, it’s important to avoid distractions in the car such as cell phones or other electronic devices. Make sure your driving skills are on point, too. Make full stops at stop signs and leave enough room for kids to cross the street. It’s also a time to teach kids by example. Your attention to safety and caution while driving will resonate with them, especially teens, when they’re ready to get behind the wheel.
- Be Prepared for More Traffic - This goes for any one traveling in the mornings or afternoons during the beginning of the school day or end. There are more cars on the roads during these peak commute times. It’s important to not only watch out for kids and children traveling on foot or by bike, but keep an eye out for other motorists or school buses making sudden stops. It’s always a good idea to allow a few extra minutes in the beginning of the school year to determine a new route or longer commute if necessary.
With all of these tips in mind, talk to you kids about transportation safety and walking or riding around school. Check to make sure they understand the basics of traveling to and from school and explain safety tips they can relate to.