Back to school safety: What you need to look out for this fall

As we near the end of summer and enter fall, we are also getting ready for back to school! With the pandemic taking over many are still getting used to the idea of going back to in-person schooling. With students going back into the classroom, it is important to review safety tips when getting to school, for students and drivers alike.

Parents invest a lot of time teaching their kids how to be safe while walking or biking to school. Drivers also need to get reacquainted with different safe-driving practices. Summer has some of the most dangerous driving due to the nature of safety that is required during this time.

According to Drive Different, “more children are hit by cars in areas close to schools” even with School Zone signs posted. The issue arises when drivers don’t slow down and pay attention to the school zone around them. Often, drivers are so distracted that they don’t realize when they are even in the school zone until they are already in it or have driven through it. There are speed bumps, flashing lights, and warning signs that drivers can all miss. This is how distracted drivers get, even with all the warnings around them. It is important to be intentional when you know you will be driving past a school. If you’re unsure of the school zone, always take precautions and just drive slowly. Always be prepared to stop. Here are some things to keep in mind when going through a school zone.

  • Know the speed limit: all school zones have reduced speed zones but not all of them are the same. Some areas have speed limits as low as 10 – 15 miles per hour. Some areas are even as high as 20 miles per hour. Make sure to check for the speed limit signs; they typically have yellow ribbons on them to indicate it being a school zone speed sign.
  • Put down the phone: if you are using your phone then you are most likely to be using one of your hands. To be the most effective driver, you want both of your hands-free. Talking or texting on the phone can result in a hefty fine in most states. It can also be a very dangerous situation specifically in a school zone because most kids are also not paying attention when they are crossing a street. It is important that you are so you can be the best defensive driver.
  • Watch for pedestrians: Crosswalks in school areas are busy during school hours but not every road has a crosswalk. You might find some people just crossing the street at random points, so it is important to drive slowly and be cautious.
  • Go slowly past parked cars: Keep driving slowly, especially when it comes to passing parked cars in school zones. Children can easily pop in and out from between cars, especially in parking lots where there are carpools and/or drop-offs occurring.

Aside from being cautious around children that might be around school zones, we want to make sure that you have all you need to be safe around school buses as well. Here are some things to keep in mind when driving around school buses.

  • Always maintain a safe following speed: Maintain as much space between your vehicle and the bus in front of you as possible. It’s important to provide enough space in case anyone ends up slamming their brakes.
  • Avoid “cutting” in front of a bus: To ensure a safer environment for passengers, many bus drivers leave a safe following distance between the bus and the car ahead of them.
  • Watch for buses that are loading and unloading: Be ready to stop when the bus does. Because this radius falls into the driver’s blind spot, the area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous.
  • Never pass a stopped bus: it’s illegal to pass any bus when it has stopped to load or unload children

This time of year is busy for bus drivers, students and parents alike so it is important that all parties take the measures they need to keep us all safe!