Each year more than 56 million children travel from their homes to attend school by walking, biking, and taking the bus. Drivers must take precautions to account for increased traffic and dangers as children return to school.
Roads will become congested during peak times, and school zones have become one of the leading causes of injuries and deaths for school-aged children.
As more children attend public schools and more drivers take to the road each year, it is essential for drivers to practice safe driving habits when traveling near school zones to ensure
Drivers need to be on high alert during the time periods between 7-8 A.M. and 3-4 P.M. since these are typically the times when children are travel to and from school.
Accident prevention requires all drivers to pay special attention when driving in or near school zones, so let’s look at five of the most important points to remember when driving near schools or playgrounds this year!
1. Be On The Lookout For School Zones
School zones are designated areas near schools and playgrounds. These areas are specifically designed to help keep children safe as they walk to and from school.
You should always remain alert when driving, and you should keep an eye out for signs and other indications that you are entering a school zone. There are many types of pavement markings, school zone signs, and crosswalk barricades that should alert you to slow down and pay special attention to your surroundings.
2. Expect More Traffic In School Zones
School zones are clearly marked because there is a lot more congestion around schools as children walk to school and as buses and parents try to drop off or pick up children each day.
Drivers often make mistakes when they are caught in traffic, stressed, or running late for work.
You should schedule at least 15 extra minutes each day when driving through a school zone, and if you need to drop off or pick up your child then you should expect at least 20-minute delays.
3. Reduce Driving Speeds In School Zones
Since school zones are areas that are specially designed for student safety, drivers need to reduce their speed whenever they enter a school zone.
Speed limits often drop in these areas because injuries and damages resulting from an accident are reduced when vehicles are traveling at lower speeds.
A school zone speed limit can drop as low as 10 or 15 miles per hour to improve the reaction time of drivers and mitigate risks associated with an accident.
Pedestrians always have the right of way, and you should expect children to run out into the road without warning.
This means that you need to reduce your driving speeds in a school zone and be prepared to hit your brakes with little warning.
4. Watch Out For Pedestrian Crossings
Schools are high-trafficked areas, so you can expect children, teachers, and parents traveling throughout the day.
If you are traveling through a school zone then you will likely find yourself in the middle of lots of pedestrian traffic depending on the time of day.
When you see a crosswalk sign in a school zone you should slow down even if you do not see anyone crossing the street. This is an excellent practice to get into so that you anticipate pedestrians.
If there is traffic, make sure you do not block crosswalks or stop in the middle of them.
Most school zones have flashing lights that warn approaching motorists that pedestrians are present, and you should remain aware as you approach crosswalks in a school zone.
5. Stop For School Buses
In all 50 states, it is illegal to pass a stopped school bus that has a stop sign extended and lights on. This indicates that children are getting on or off the bus.
Most bus-related accidents happen because cars do not head to this law, and you should know what the law requires motorists to do when they approach a school bus on the road.
Drivers should always yield the right of way to school buses. Additionally, make sure that you share the road with buses and do not try and beat them at intersections and in parking lots.
You should be on the lookout when a bus is trying to turn because if you are too close, you could end up in a fender bender.
Lastly, be mindful of children who are waiting at a bus stop. They may be close to the street or curb, and it is important that you are alert. If a child trips and falls into the street, you want to be able to move.
Be sure to pay attention as you drive near school zones and be sure to follow the general rule of thumb is to yield and give pedestrians and buses the right of way at all times.
If you stay alert and focused, you can keep yourself and everyone around you safe this school year!