In the blink of an eye, summer has officially come to an end. Fall weather is rapidly approaching, and it’s hard not to notice the school buses on the road, kids walking to school and all the back to school sales in the store. For many, school has officially begun, and that means there are more cars and buses on the road and children pedestrians on the street. It’s time to use extra caution when you’re on the road, to keep everyone safe. Check out some of our back to school safety tips below.
If you’re driving around a school where children may be walking to and from, be extra cautious and alert. You’ll want to employ these safe driving techniques not only when you’re around a school, but during morning or afternoon hours when school is starting or letting out. Kids are likely walking all over the neighborhood.
The most important tip is to slow down – you can even drive under the posted speed. Obey all traffic laws and make sure you are aware of the speed limit, keeping in mind that the speed limit can be lower during certain hours, like when school is just starting or letting out. Many schools also utilize traffic cops, safety patrol and/or crossing guards, and you should defer to their instructions. Make sure to stop if they ask you to, to allow children to cross the street or school buses to exit onto the road.
It’s also critical to stay aware of your surroundings while driving nearby a school or during peak school hours. Don’t fiddle with the radio, put your coffee down, don’t turn around to check on your children, text or browse the internet on your phone and keep your eyes on the road. Even though you’re driving slowly, you should still be completely concentrated on your surroundings. You never know when a child running late for school may dart out in front of your car or another car may suddenly slam on its breaks.
School Drop-Off and Pick-Up
When you’re dropping your kids off at school, keep these tips in mind:
- Don’t double park when stopping to let your child out – that can block visibility for both children walking to and from the building and other drivers
- Follow your school’s traffic pattern and plan for pick-up and drop-off. If they don’t have one, you might want to suggest it to the principal – it’s safer for everyone!
- Try to drop your children off in front of the building, not down or across the street, which forces them to walk in front of oncoming traffic
- Make sure you’re yielding to pedestrians
- Be patient – school drop off and pick up isn’t the time to drive erratically or unexpectedly
Of course, when school starts, you’ll start to see the road dotted with yellow school buses. Driving around the buses has a specific set of driving rules of their own. Make sure you’re:
- Preparing to stop for a bus when the yellow overhead lights are flashing
- If the yellow overhead lights are flashing, drive slowly and cautiously – don’t speed up or try to pass the bus
- When the red overhead lights are flashing, you must stop, no matter if you’re in front of or behind the bus
- Keep your eyes peeled for the children getting on and off the bus – once you’re stopped, don’t move until they are a safe distance from your car and the red lights are turned off
Talk to your Children
Before school starts, make sure to discuss with your children car, bus and pedestrian safety. Remind them that the car or school bus is not a place to misbehave and that it’s important to stay seated and on their best behavior.
Make safety a family priority! Take a family walk and practice looking both ways before crossing the street. Talk about obeying crossing guards, police officers and making sure to stay on the sidewalk. If you’re unsure if your child is mature enough to walk to school, you can walk with them until you’re more confident.
The fall is an exciting time for kids and parents alike, but by following these tips, you can make sure safety doesn’t fall by the wayside.