Most everyone, including young students, has been stuck inside their houses for the past 15+ months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, now that there are vaccinations available, things are slowly turning back to normal.
According to a report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (the NHTSA) in 2019, there were 1, 241 people of all ages killed in school-transportation-related fatal crashes between the years 2008 and 2017. In a 9-year time span, 124 people have been killed in school-transportation-related accidents per year on average. For more information collected by the NHTSA on school transportation-related crashes, click here.
In this article, we cover back-to-school driving tips for every occasion a parent may run into. Keep reading to learn more.
The Start Of The School Day: Dropping Off
Schools typically have one lane where you can pull up and drop off your child. This makes mornings especially hectic when there are hundreds of kids being dropped off at the same time. You can make this part of the school day easier by following these tips:
- Don’t double park because it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles
- Consider carpooling to reduce the number of cars at the school during both drop-off and pick-up
- Do not drop off or pick up your child from across the street from the school
Pedestrian Safety: Look Out For School Children
Keeping pedestrians safe is extremely important, especially when the pedestrians are children. Kids are more likely to not pay attention to their surroundings when on the road or crossing the street. This puts them at a higher risk of walking into oncoming traffic. When you are approaching a crossway in a school zone and you see a child about to cross, always assume that they don’t know the rules of the road and proceed in your car with extra caution.
- If you’re driving through a school zone where flashers are blinking, stop for any pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection
- Follow the instructions of the present crossing guard or school patrol officer
- Don’t block the crosswalk when at a red light or when waiting to make a turn, as this can force young pedestrians to go around you, potentially putting them in the path of moving traffic
- You never drive past a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
Sharing The Road: School Buses
Like other large vehicles, school bus drivers have blind spots and it is difficult for passengers and other people on the road to see around the vehicle. Just as you would when sharing the road with an 18-wheeler, exercise extreme caution when driving next to or near a school bus, especially if you are in a school zone.
- You must stop your vehicle if a bus’s yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended
- If a bus is stopped to load or unload children, never drive past it from behind
- 10 feet around the school bus is the most dangerous area for children which is why you should step back far enough to give them enough space to safely get on and off the bus
Sharing The Road: Bicyclists
Children may be arriving at school on their bikes. This is especially likely if the school is located in or near a residential area.
- Check your side mirrors for any oncoming bicyclists before you open your car door
- When you pass a bicyclist while in your car continue in the same direction slowly and leave 3 feet in between you and the bicyclist
- If you are preparing to turn left and you see a bicyclist coming in the opposite direction let them pass before you complete your turn
- Conversely, if you are turning right and you see a bicyclist approaching behind you on the right let the bike rider go through the intersection first and always use your turn signals
- Watch for bike riders who may turn in front of your car without looking or signaling; child bike riders are more likely to do this
- Watch for bike riders coming out of driveways or out from behind parked cars
Protect Yourself From COVID-19
In the interest of maintaining public health, have your child fully vaccinated before they return to in-person schooling. If your child does not qualify for the COVID-19 vaccine, make sure that they are taking the necessary health precautions while at their school.
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