Before you know it, the school buses will be rolling through every neighborhood in America. The children will be bustling back and forth, walking and riding their bikes to class. Drivers must slow down and be aware of their surroundings. The number of children hit on school grounds is increasing. Alarmingly, more than 50 percent of children are hit by parents of other students. Safety must start with you, and here are some driving safety tips you need.
1. Never Block Crosswalks
Crosswalks are safe zones that you should never use for dropping or picking up children. They are meant to be clear of traffic. If a child needs to walk around your car to get to the school, then you are putting them in jeopardy. Always stop and wait till a child has cleared the crosswalk before proceeding, and always use designated drop off zones.
2. Always Stop for School Buses
It’s illegal to pass a stopped school bus. Sadly, a study found that there are more than 80 violations that occur around the country each day. When a child steps outside the doors of the bus, they enter a danger zone. Until they reach the school or home safely, the bus driver must be vigilant and watch them. The risk and prevalence of this matter have reached a national level. A car needs to be at least 10 feet from a bus that is loading or unloading, but some states require as much as 30 feet. Even if the bus isn’t equipped with a stop sign that comes out from the side, you are still required to stop.
3. Slow Down
The school speed limit is 20 mph during restricted hours. Even if the lights are not flashing, it’s always best to reduce your speed. A child can run in front of your vehicle in a split second, and you can stop your car better at a slower speed than a faster one.
Make sure you stop at all stop signs. Don’t do a rolling stop as you speed through the area. Check, and double check to make sure all intersections and crosswalks around the school are clear before proceeding.
4. Keep Your Vehicle Maintenance Current
Whether you own a brand-new car or one that is a few years old doesn’t matter. All automobiles need to be maintained. Do you know how many people drive around with windows that don’t roll down, horns that won’t blow, and doors that can’t lock? In most instances, it can be something as small as a fuse that is causing the problem.
If you go through a school zone and your horn won’t work, and your window won’t roll down, then you can put a life in jeopardy. If a child dashes in front of your car, a horn can get their attention and indicate a warning.
Another problem is driving on tires that are not adequately inflated or don’t have the right tread. Having a blow out with children nearby is not a good scenario. What about a leaking exhaust? Do you really want a child breathing in all those fumes? Make sure to have your vehicle maintenance and inspection done before school starts. Something as small as a blown window motor can impact the safety of you and others.
5. Carpool for Safety
Carpooling is an excellent idea for those who have many friends and family in the same district. Not only does it cut down on the wear and tear of your car, but it also helps to reduce the pollution in the area. By reducing the number of automobiles going in and out of the school area each day, it helps to decrease the chance of an accident.
6. Adhere to Drop-Off/Pick-Up Procedures
Every school has a designated drop-off and pick-up location. These locations have staff there to patrol for the protection of the children. It never fails that there are parents that want to skip the line or avoid the congestion. Never drop your child off across the street. There is so much traffic in this area that it increases the chances of them being hit.
Also, these areas are designated for a reason. Never honk, unless there is a good reason, as it can scare someone and cause them to trip or fall. Remember to respect and stop for the safety patrol staff too. While they are not officers of the law and cannot give you a ticket, they are there to make sure everyone gets to and from school safely.
7. Remember the Pedestrian Always Has The Right Of Way
No matter what time of day or where you are, a pedestrian always has the right of way. Don’t go around or pass a child that is walking to school. If they are on the street, then you stop until they pass safely to the other side. Drivers in a hurry strike too many pedestrians each year.
8. Put Down the Cells Phones
One of the best driving safety tips that a person could utilize is to put their cell phone down while in the car. If you are in a school zone, your attention needs to be on your kids and those around you. It’s easy to be detracted by a conversation and ignore what’s going on in front of you.
9. Make Sure The Windows Are Not Obstructed
While it sounds bizarre to think of a car window being obstructed, you would be surprised the people that half clean off their windshields in the snowy season. Old and cracked wipers can cause poor visibility. Also, cracks and chips out of the window can make seeing difficult. Keep good wipers on the car, always take time to clean off snow and ice, and have any cracks in the driver’s view repaired immediately.
10. Check Side Mirrors Before Opening Doors
Lastly, children are very unpredictable. Most have impulse control issues that cause them to do things that could get them hurt. It’s best always to check your side mirrors before you open a car. A child can come up beside your vehicle without warning, and opening your door too quickly could cause a kid to fall. A fall on blacktop or concrete can be detrimental. Always use extra caution when numerous children are scurrying about.
While you’re preparing for the back to school season, it’s essential to go a step further. Have your vehicle maintenance conducted, and make sure to take care of anything that could be a safety issue for you or your children. Always observe the laws, and slow down when you’re in the vicinity of any school.
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