School is almost back in session! Before they head into their new classroom for that first day of school, this is the perfect time to refresh your child’s safety skills for the school year. But getting your child to school safely is at least a two-man job. Both kids and drivers should be reviewing safety tips for this new back-to-school season.
School starting means more traffic, more pedestrians (small ones!), and more young drivers. Because of this, it’s important to sharpen your driving skills to prevent any potential incidents. Keeping our students safe is every driver’s responsibility, so we’re sharing some back-to-school safety tips for drivers. Let’s dive right in!
9 Back-to-School Safety Tips for Drivers
1. Be aware of school buses.
School buses are the safest vehicles on the road. This is partially because of a school bus’s special construction, but it’s also because of YOU. Buses are the most regulated vehicles on the road, and there are lots of traffic laws dedicated to safety around school buses! When everyone is following the law, school buses are ultra-safe.
To keep the roads as safe as possible, review school bus safety laws and keep your eyes peeled for buses and bus stops. Most importantly, NEVER pass a bus that has the stop arm out. Even if you’re driving in the opposite direction. (Check local laws to see if you can keep driving in the opposite direction if there’s a median!) Remember to also leave a good stopping distance between you and a bus so they can safely slow down and park at a bus stop.
2. Stay alert.
In 2020, over 3,000 people died in traffic accidents associated with distracted driving. Talking or texting on your cell phone, pumping, eating, sleep deprivation, and much more are HUGE distractions. These distractions may not seem like a big deal, but pulling your eyes off the road for a few seconds can have BIG consequences. This is an even bigger risk with the increased foot, bike, and car traffic that comes with the new school year. Stay focused and eliminate distractions.
3. Follow speed limits—and be aware of school zones.
Speed limits aren’t meant to be a buzz kill. They’re intelligently set to keep the occupants of that area safe. Stay within the speed limits, and keep your eye out for school zones. When you reach a school zone, you’ll have to slow down at certain times of the day. These signs are usually marked with yellow on a standard speed limit sign. Don’t miss it!
4. Watch for pedestrians, children, and cyclists.
As we’ve mentioned, when school starts, you encounter more than just vehicle traffic. You’ll find kids walking and biking to school, sometimes with family and sometimes not. We don’t need to explain why this makes the roads more dangerous!
Pay attention no matter where you are, even if you’re not near a crosswalk with a crossing guard. Kids may choose to cross the street between cars, in the middle of the street, or across an intersection. Don’t focus only on other cars; stay alert to spot those little pedestrians!
5. Prepare and give yourself extra time.
New schedules often mean rushing to work or the school drop-off. This only increases the danger. You may exceed speed limits and get distracted by your frustration. To prevent that frantic morning rush, get backpacks and outfits ready the night before, organize your car, and leave lots of extra time to get to your destination. You’ll stay calm and focused that way! Oh, and safe, of course.
6. Be mindful of drop-off.
The school drop-off line or parking area can feel a little like Mad Max. Follow all your school’s drop-off rules and be aware of kids who might be weaving through parked cars. Additionally, don’t pass cars stopped to load or unload children because you don’t know which direction they might run in! Stay super alert and drive slowly at the busy school drop-off.
7. Don’t block the crosswalk.
If you’re coming up to a stop sign or red light, do not block the crosswalk. Not only is parking in the crosswalk inconvenient for the pedestrians walking through, but it’s also unsafe! If you roll into a crosswalk, you could hit someone crossing the intersection at the same moment. It’s very important for drivers to slow down early and stop BEFORE the crosswalk.
8. Be cautious of new drivers on the road.
When high school is in session, it means there are a lot of 16-year-olds (in some states, as young as 14!) driving on the road. They’re new to driving. They’re much more likely to be distracted. They also don’t have the experience to react quickly to changing road conditions. And they may not know all of the traffic safety laws. Since you can’t depend on these drivers to be safe (or any drivers, for that matter), always drive defensively to prevent accidents. You can only control your own actions, so be safe and focused at all times!
9. Ensure your kids are in the right seat.
Since there are more dangers on the road than ever when driving during school drop-off and pick-up hours, ensure your child is in the right car seat. The right car seat installed correctly reduces the risk of injury in an accident by 82%! Unfortunately, up to 40% of children are NOT in a proper child restraint system.
Not sure if your child should be rear-facing or forward-facing? Should they still be in a booster? Can they sit in the front seat? How about buckling? What’s a car seat consultant? All these questions are great ones to ask. Luckily, Safe in the Seat is an all-in-one resource for anything and everything car seat-related. For the best information about car seat safety, check out our blog and follow us on Instagram. We even have courses to help make you a car seat expert!
The roads get even more dangerous during the school year, so brush up on your back-to-school safety and do your part to keep the streets safe.
There’s a lot to worry about with the return of the school year. School supplies shopping, orientation, extracurricular sign-ups, and that unfinished summer reading list and assignments are all swirling around in your head and stressing you out! Don’t let back-to-school safety be another point of worry. Make a plan, prepare yourself, and brush up on school driving safety to help keep your kids, yourself, and your community safe.
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