The dog days of summer are coming to an end, meaning in just a few weeks, kids and families in the community will be getting back into their school-year routines.
The first day of school for Lamar School District RE-2 is Monday, Aug. 12, and with it will come more congested sidewalks and busier streets. Over the summer, you might have gotten used to less traffic during your morning and afternoon commutes, but when school is back in session, it’s important to slow down and be more aware of your surroundings while driving.
According to the National Safe Routes to School program, more children are hit by cars near schools than anywhere else. In order to ensure you and your family stay safe when the first bell rings for the school year, here are a few back-to-school driving tips to keep in mind.
Driving Tips for School Zones
According to research completed by the National Safety Council (NSC), most deaths related to school transportation are among children 4 to 7 years old who are walking. They are either hit by a bus or by a passing vehicle. To avoid collisions in school zones, follow these tips by the NSC.
- Don’t double park, as it blocks visibility for children and other vehicles.
- Don’t drop off your children across the street.
- Don’t direct children into traffic by blocking the crosswalk.
- Obey the crossing guard and follow his or her directions.
- Don’t honk or rev your engine at latecomers crossing quickly, even if you have the right of way.
- Never pass a vehicle at a crosswalk.
- Reduce your speed to the standard 25 mph, or slower, when approaching a crosswalk.
Sharing the Road with School Buses
According to School Transportation News, about one-quarter of all crash injuries occur when kids, usually between ages 5 and 7, are getting on or off their bus. This most commonly occurs either when they are standing too close to the bus and are hit by the bus itself, or when they’re hit by a passing car.
When driving near a school bus, it’s important to remain patient and to wait for the bus driver to turn off their flashing lights and pull in the stop arm. Remember, kids can be unpredictable, so give them plenty of space. Also, never pass a school bus from behind when it is stopped to load or unload children.
As a parent, help promote safety at the bus stop by teaching your kids a few simple rules, such as standing 10 feet back from the bus and never walking behind it. Also, if they are crossing the street in front of the bus, they should stay 10 feet (or five giant steps) in front of it so the driver can see them. Be sure to teach your kids to not walk toward the bus until it has completely stopped.
Be Aware of Children on Bikes
Older elementary, middle and high school kids often ride their bikes to school. It’s important to remember that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles. Avoid the most common situation for a collision: turning left in front of a bicycle. Here are tips for driving near bicyclists.
- Watch for bicyclists on both sides of the road. If one is coming toward you on the left, wait for them to pass.
- Give bicyclists plenty of space, especially when passing.
- Remember, kids are not always the best at signaling, so watch for quick actions and bicyclists possibly turning in front of you or coming out behind a parked car — especially in a busy school zone.
When Aug. 12 arrives, make sure to tack on some extra time to your morning routine so you won’t feel rushed. This will ensure you’re on your best driving behavior during drop-off and pick-up times for schools, helping you prevent any school-related driving accidents.