May 03, 2018 @ 12:00am

Millions of students are headed back to school this fall. It’s a good time to educate yourself and drivers alike on the rules of the road around school buses and in school zones, the dangers of distracted driving and how to keep pedestrians safe.

School Bus

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), some 45 million students nationwide travel to and from school on a bus. The NSC reports that school buses are considered the safest mode of transportation because of their size and construction, causing only one percent of all student fatalities during school travel times. Even though this statistic is low, it’s still one percent too high.

  • Keep at least 10 feet of space between your car and the school bus
  • Never pass a school bus that is stopped; most will flash a stop sign on their left side as a reminder when stopped but don’t assume all buses have that feature
  • Drive with caution if you see yellow hazard warning lights flashing on a moving bus

Watch for children gathering near a school bus — children are notorious for darting toward a school bus without looking for traffic

School Zones

A school zone is any area near a school or crosswalk leading to a school. School zones typically have speed limits between 15 and 25 mph and fines for speeding in these areas usually double.

  • Slow down and obey all traffic laws and speed zones
  • Be on the lookout for school crossing guards and follow their signals
  • Never pass a vehicle, change lanes or make U-turns in a school zone
  • Unless licensed to do so, never use handicap or emergency vehicle lanes to drop off or pick up children in a school zone


Distracted Driving

According to a study by Safe Kids Worldwide, one in six drivers in a school zone were observed as being distracted by cell phones, music, engaging in conversation, smoking, eating, grooming or reaching for something.

  • Avoid eating in the car
  • If you need to make a call, pull off to the side of the road
  • Limit noise and activity in the car
  • Finish getting dressed and finish all personal grooming before you leave the house
  • If your child or pet needs attention, pull off to the side of the road

Pedestrian Safety

According to Safe Routes to School, roughly 13 percent of children ages 5 to 14 years old walk to school. Children are unpredictable and often difficult to see; always use caution and look out for them near schools and playgrounds.

  • Pedestrians typically have the right-of-way at all intersections
  • Don’t stop with a portion of your vehicle over the cross walk as this may force the pedestrian to go around your vehicle putting themselves at risk of being struck by another vehicle
  • Never honk your horn or rev your engine to rush or scare a pedestrian

Do you take any other precautions? If so, please share in the comment field below.

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