Back to School Driving Tips

Back to School Driving Tips

With kids returning to school over the next few weeks, it’s a good time to review school driving safety rules and exercise extra caution near school zones.

Kids across the country are heading back to school, so it’s a good time to review the basic rules of the road when it comes to driving near schools and school buses. According to the National Safe Routes to School Program, school-age children are at a higher risk to be struck by a vehicle near schools than anywhere else, so driving cautiously and considerately is vital for the safety of students going to and from school, as well as your own.

Dropping Students Off/Picking Students Up

Dropping your children off or picking them up from school can be a stressful experience. While stress inducing for drivers with children, high-traffic situations before and after the school day are the most dangerous for students. A few tips can help make student drop-offs and pick-ups much safer:

  • Avoid loading and unloading your children across the street from a school. Though it may help you beat traffic and get students on campus quicker, having children cross a street, especially during heavy traffic, puts them in danger of oncoming vehicles.
  • Don’t double park. While it might seem like a quick and simple way to drop students off, double parking puts children and your vehicle into the street and in the way of other cars.
  • Carpooling with friends and neighbors can give you an occasional break from taking on school traffic, as well as reduce the number of vehicles on the road, making school zones safer.
  • Check your school’s drop-off procedures. Pick-up and drop-off rules vary by school and are designed to keep students safe during peak traffic hours. Make sure you’re familiar with the procedures of your child’s school to ensure the safety of nearby students.

Sharing the Road

While drivers who are picking up and dropping off students are responsible for keeping the children they’re transporting safe, other drivers should also be especially alert when traveling in school zones.

Pedestrians are the most vulnerable when it comes to traffic safety, and this is especially true when it comes to children. To ensure the safety of pedestrians around you, avoid blocking crosswalks, whether turning or stopped at an intersection. Doing so means pedestrians have to walk around your vehicle, putting them at risk of oncoming traffic.

Make sure to yield to pedestrians when crosswalk flashers are blinking. Even if you think you can avoid them, you can never predict if a pedestrian, especially a child, will run or jump in the way of your vehicle. Always stop at a crosswalk while a patrol officer or crossing guard is guiding pedestrians across the street.

Even if you are not driving in a school zone, be aware of parks and residential neighborhoods where children may be walking to get to school.

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the group most at risk in fatal, bus-related incidents is children ages 4 to 6. Drivers should practice extra caution around buses by adhering to the following traffic rules:

  • Keep further behind a bus than you would a normal car. Buses may stop suddenly, whether to load and unload students or to make a complete stop at a railroad crossing. Having extra room gives you more time to compensate for sudden stops.
  • Do not pass a bus that is either loading or unloading students. This is illegal in all 50 states.
  • Keep your vehicle at least 10 feet away from a school bus at all times. This area is the most dangerous for children.

It’s common for students to ride bicycles to school. On most roads, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers, however motorists should keep an especially close eye on adolescent bike-riders.

When passing a cyclist, drivers should slow down and always leave at least 3 feet of distance between the vehicle and the bicycle. This gives space to avoid cars in case a cyclist loses control of his or her bicycle or falls.

Drivers should also exercise caution when bikes are turning, and should always let turning cyclists pass. Vehicles that are making a left should also wait to let oncoming cyclists pass them before proceeding.

The start of the school year marks an increase in traffic and potential hazards, but if you follow these tips, school zones can become much safer for students and drivers.

Drive Safely!

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