This post is the second in a three-part series on back-to-school safety for children and their families. You can find the initial post of this series on the Simply Senia blog.
Going back to school safely means more than just kids crossing with the crossing guard. Motorists in cities and towns across the country share the road with school busses, school car pools, and children headed to school on bicycles or on foot. Drivers need to be aware of extra traffic, more distractions and an increased risk of accident or injury as school begins this fall. Reminding yourself of some general traffic laws as well as following a few extra safety tips can help you and the school children on your route to work get to the classroom safely.
School Bus Safety
The National Safety Council reports that school buses are one of the safest forms of transportation for students going to and from school. Riding in a school bus is 13 times safer than riding in a car and 10 times safer than walking to school. Most bus-related accidents are actually caused by drivers of cars illegally passing a school bus that has stopped. Following these safety-regulation reminders from the National Safety Council will help you do your part to keep school-bus passengers safe:
- Do not pass a school bus that has stopped to let children on or off of a bus. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is actively loading or unloading children.
- Pay attention to flashing bus lights. Yellow flashing lights warn motorists that a bus is getting ready to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate a bus has stopped to load or unload children.
- Stop on both sides of the road. All 50 states have laws requiring traffic on both sides of an undivided highway to stop for school-loading or unloading. Laws vary about stopping traffic on a divided roadway, but all states require traffic behind a school bus to stop.
- Stop a safe distance from a school bus. The area 10 feet around the bus is the most dangerous to children. Be sure and stop your vehicle far enough away from the bus for children to enter and exit safely.
- Stay alert. Children entering or exiting a school bus can be unpredictable and may dart out in front of traffic without warning.
- Do not pass a school bus on the right. Passing a school bus on the right is illegal in all states and can be life-threatening to children entering or exiting a school bus.
Although most children ride to and from school in buses or passenger cars, there are children who live close enough to walk. Paying close attention to these young pedestrians is the best way to avoid accidents. Following some additional tips can help walkers arrive at school safely:
- Do not block crosswalks. Blocking a crosswalk forces pedestrians to go outside of the yellow line when crossing the street and can put them in danger.
- Pay attention to school zone flashers. In school zones, when yellow lights are flashing, cars must yield to pedestrians at both marked crosswalks and intersections.
- Stop for crossing guards. When a crossing guard enters the crosswalk, you must stop immediately. Proceed only after all children and the crossing guard are completely across the street.
- Watch for children running or jaywalking. Although children know they are to cross only at crosswalks or with crossing guards, they may jaywalk or run across the road without looking. Being aware of these possibilities while in a school zone increases child safety.
- Obey all school zone speed limit signs. School zone speed limits are set with the safety of walking children in mind. Speeding in a school zone carries traffic penalties and puts children in danger.
Parking Lot Safety
School parking lots are filled with school buses loading and unloading, car pools lines with children entering and leaving vehicles, and children riding bicycles or walking home. As a parent picking up or dropping off children at school, it is your responsibility to be aware of the school’s procedures regarding parking lot safety. In addition, following these basic principles can help increase parking lot safety:
- Pull forward in carpool lines. Pulling forward to the beginning of the drop-off point helps keep traffic moving and kids getting into and out of cars in the safest manner possible.
- Do not let your children out of the car in the through lane. Most carpool lines have a drop-off lane and a through lane. Letting your child out in the through lane can increase his or her risk of injury from moving traffic.
- Consider dropping your child off within a short walking distance of school rather than in a carpool lane. This cuts down on traffic near the school building and decreases potential car hazards.
Keeping children safe while traveling to and from school requires motorists to be aware and alert and share the road at all times.
Photo Credit: Cast a Line | Flickr