Back To School: 12 Tips To Prevent Accidents
Several months have passed since drivers have had to slow down when driving through a school zone.
Soon those yellow lights will be flashing and the school guards will be blowing their whistles to remind you that school is back in session and drivers need to slow down to the required speed limit while children are present.
According to the Safety Resource Center, more than 56 million children go from their home to school via walking, biking and taking the bus. Roads around schools become congested when children are going to or leaving school, with school zones being one of the leading areas where injuries and deaths of school-age children occur.
Because young children and adolescents face some of the highest risks of all age groups when crossing streets or walking near traffic, school zones have strict laws and enforcement to ensure that drivers pass through them cautiously and alertly.
A study by Safe Kids Worldwide found that around 100 children in the U.S. are killed annually while walking to or from school, and an additional 25,000 may be injured because of school zone related crashes.
The same organization conducted a study that found drivers often disobey stop signs at intersections in school zones and residential neighborhoods. It found 45 percent of drivers fail to come to a complete stop, 37 percent of vehicles roll through stop signs and seven percent of drivers fail to slow down at all.
While slowing down in a school zone helps lower the number of injuries from vehicle accidents in these areas, be aware of children darting into the street in order to catch up with their friends or to beat that light turning red.
Heed our tips to help keep children safe while they are heading to and from school:
- Add extra time when you know you have to drive through one or more school zones, anticipating you may have to stop to let students cross the road.
- If you are not taking a child to school, check out alternative routes when schools are in session.
- The accepted conduct for a driver is to yield, giving pedestrians and buses the right of way in and near a school zone.
- Drivers should always be alert when approaching a crosswalk because students may not observe the ‘walk’ signal when they are crossing the street and drivers should never block crosswalks or stop inside the designated area for them.
- Watch for students as they exit the school bus because they may walk in front of you after getting off the bus.
- Remember, it is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that has its stop sign extended and lights on while it is loading or unloading children. Drivers should note that when a bus has flashing yellow lights on, it is getting ready to stop and let children off or on, while a red light on a bus means that children are getting on or off the bus.
- Be observant of children who are waiting for a school bus on your route because they may be standing close to the street or curb, or they might walk into the street when they see their bus coming toward them.
- Be aware of children on bicycles as they may not follow the law about where to ride their bikes and when they should yield to traffic.
- Do not use cell phones or other electronic devices, as it takes only two seconds of looking away from the road to double the chances of a crash.
- According to Safe Kids Worldwide, drivers who text are just as dangerous as drivers who drive while drinking.
- The National Center for Safe Routes to School advises parents to drop their child off at the school, not across the street from it, because having a child cross a street increases their chance of being in an accident.
- Always share safety tips with your children so they are prepared and will be safe when it is time for them to go back to school.