Back To School Driving: Stay Safe, Stay Aware
It was only out for the summer, not forever: that’s right, it’s time for back to school and, by default, back to school driving. There are a few certainties – like death and taxes – this time of year. From increased traffic (both vehicular and pedestrian) to a spike in peripheral dangers, back to school means back to alert driving. If you want to make sure you are staying extra careful, these are our top recommended tips to avoid unwanted school-season car damage.
Dropping Off & Driving Near
Once it’s time for back to school driving, it is also time to relearn school schedules. If you are dropping off your kids in the morning (or just have to drive by a drop-off point) it’s important to learn the routines. Most schools have very specific drop-off procedures. It is important to know them for the safety of kids and for your own peace of mind.
Don’t double park. Whether you are dropping off your kids or just waiting in the area, it blocks visibility for children and other drivers.
Don’t drop off your kids across the street from the school. It’s simply not safe. Conversely, be aware of parents who may be just doing that. Even if it’s not within school rules, it does happen. So be on the alert with your back to school driving for children crossing.
Carpooling is a great way to reduce congestion by reducing vehicles. It also makes for safer traffic-zones all around.
Make sure your mirrors and blinkers are of excellent visibility and in good working condition. This will increase your ability to stay safe and react smartly.
According to the National Safety Council, pedestrian fatalities are up by 16% year over year. And children are especially vulnerable around back to school driving, thanks to bus accidents, illegal vehicle passing, distracted driving, blindspots and more. There are a few precautions, though, you can take:
Back to school driving means being hyper aware of flashing lights and school zone indicators. Aside from safety reasons, this can mean also avoiding paying those school zone speeding ticket fines.
If you have a red light or are waiting to make a turn, don’t block a crosswalk.
It’s not just school zones that are affected by back to school driving. It’s time to be hyper aware around parks, playgrounds, libraries, etc.
It can be frustrating when pedestrians jump out, but just because you have the right of way doesn’t mean that’s always going to be respected. Especially with kids, they simply may not know. Always be on the lookout.
Don’t pass around a vehicle that is stopped – especially at or near a crosswalk. There is a strong chance they’re stopped for pedestrians.
Always be prepared for a quick stop. Ensure your tires are in good condition and with enough tread in case you need to slam on the brakes and stop in a hurry.
School Bus Etiquette
Buses make sudden stops and are carrying precious cargo. If you’re following a bus, make sure you allow a decent stopping distance. Once those lights start flashing, you will want to slow down right away. Nothing says back to school driving quite like tailing a school bus, but it is always safety first.
First and foremost, remember that passing a stopped school bus is illegal.
If lights are flashing and the “stop” arm is extended, even oncoming traffic must stop, not just cars going in the same direction.
When that stop sign comes out, the bus is going to stop. Be prepared so you don’t end up doing some real damage. (Believe it or not, people have coasted into actively stopped school buses).
10 feet around a school bus is considered especially dangerous. There are so many blind spots and opportunities for children to dart out. Be extra careful.