Late-August is such an exciting time for kids, a time to return to school, reconnect with old friends and make new ones. My household has its first wave of this excitement, as my son Graham just started pre-school. After so many schools were learning remotely, our kids are even more eager to be together again. As children return to school, it’s a good time for all drivers to be mindful of the dangers this time presents to both students and drivers. Kids getting on and off buses, children on foot and on bikes, harried parents in cars, and everyone a little more distracted each year, we need to be aware of and take precautions against to keep everyone safe and to do our part to avoid injuries to children.
Here are some tips to minimize risks when driving in back-to-school season:
- Slow down and be alert in school zones and around school buses.
- Buses make frequent stops — don’t follow too close. Flashing yellow lights mean get ready to stop and flashing red lights with extended warning arms mean STOP.
- Watch for kids at crosswalks and always obey crossing guards and traffic control devices.
- Never change lanes or make U-turns while driving in a school zone.
- Be alert and look for kids playing and gathering near bus stops or walking in the street.
- Expect kids to be unpredictable. We’ve had too many calls from parents of kids who darted out between cars crossing to a bus stop.
- When backing out of your driveway or leaving a garage, beware of children walking or biking to school.
- When driving your kids to school, always use proper car and booster seats that are appropriate for age. Younger children should always be in the back seat.
- Dropping kids off, follow the school’s drop-off procedures. Don’t load or unload kids across the street from the school. Don’t double park, blocking visibility. Don’t pass vehicles stopped for pedestrians.
- Watch out for bike riders turning in front of you, coming from driveways, or from behind parked cars. Check your side mirrors for cyclists before opening the door.
- Distracted driving is dangerous for everybody. Put down the devices, coffee, food, and combs and cosmetics when driving.
By exercising a little extra care and caution when behind the wheel, we can do our part to assure that back-to-school season is safe for everyone.
For more back-to-school safety tips, check out this post for tips on talking to your kids about back-to-school safety, including accidents at school bus stops, as bicycle riders and pedestrians, and on playground equipment.