In just a few short weeks, it’s that time again—the beginning of a new school year. In Lamar, school starts Monday, August 13.
Considering all it takes to get kids ready for school—lunches packed, schoolwork in backpacks, and kids dressed, with shoes on—it’s no wonder you need to rush in the morning. Rush all you need to, but when you shut your front door to drive or walk your kids to school, leave the rush behind.
When driving, once you arrive at school resist the urge to double park or let your kids off across the street, because more children are hit by cars near schools than anywhere else, according to the National Safe Routes to School program.
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 the bus itself or by a passing vehicle. To avoid accidents in school zones, follow these tips by the NSC.
- Don’t block the crosswalk. If you pull up too far, you force kids to walk around you, possibly putting them in traffic.
- 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.
Safety Around the School Bus
You might think that once you walk your kids to the bus stop, your worries are over. Yet about a quarter of all injuries occur getting on or off the bus, according to School Transportation News. This is usually younger kids, ages 5 to 7, who are standing too near the bus and are hit by the bus itself, or a passing car—sometimes by someone who attempts to pass the stopped bus—something as a driver you should never do.
When driving near a school bus, it may be tempting to think the road ahead is clear, but err on the side of caution and be patient while waiting for the bus driver to turn off the flashing lights and pull in the stop arm. Remember, kids can be unpredictable, so give them space.
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 5 giant steps) in front of it so the driver can see them. A common scenario you might not think about is the driver not seeing little ones who are too close to the front, or who have bent down to pick up a dropped item. Also, make sure your kids don’t walk toward the bus until it has completely stopped. With younger kids, stay and watch to make sure kids are safe.
Watch for Kids Biking to School
Older elementary, middle and high school kids often ride their bikes to school. Remember that bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, and view them 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.
By taking a deep breath and letting go of the rush at the front door before you and your kids leave for school, and being on your best driving behavior during drop off and pick up times, you can help prevent school-related driving accidents.