It’s September, and for thousands of cities across the US, that means kids are back in school. Ask any parent what their primary concern is for their child, and they’ll probably tell you it’s their safety. The Transportation Research Board reports that 25,000 children are injured every year in school zone accidents, and 100 of those collisions end in fatalities.
While rigorous enforcement and adherence to school zone laws have decreased the number accidents and fatalities in children under the age of 12, the death rate for pedestrian teenagers involved in collisions in a crosswalk or school zone has spiked in recent years. There are multiple factors contributing to this; the primary reason being that most teenagers are distracted by a mobile device when they should be paying attention to the road.
As drivers, it’s our primary responsibility to stay extra cautious and alert around both motorists and pedestrians- especially by school busses, school zones and crosswalks. Read on for some helpful tips on how to stay safe and aware on the road during the school year.
- Respect the bus- the 10 feet surrounding the bus is one of the most dangerous places for kids. Make sure you’re yielding or slowing down around school busses, especially when performing a drop-off or pick-up.
- Be aware of fluctuating speed limits - Pay attention to school zones and be aware of speed limit drops. Even if you don’t see any children around, if the school zone light is flashing, make sure to obey the posted speed limit. Most fines for speeding in a school zone are doubled, depending on your state, so do your part by being mindful of the posted speed and limiting distractions when behind the wheel.
- Stay Alert - Expect roads to be busier. Parent drop-offs at school, college students driving to their universities and school buses back on the road all add up to increased traffic congestion. Back to school means staying alert on the roads.
- Plan for a longer commute - Routes that you took over the summer may be affected increased traffic once the school year starts, so give yourself plenty of time when leaving the house.
- Yield to pedestrians- Road congestion isn’t the only form of traffic you can expect to spike. Once school starts, expect foot traffic to increase, especially if you live or work close to a school. Make sure to watch for the flashing yellow lights at crosswalks- even those not at stoplights- and yield to pedestrians.
- Be aware of cyclists riding to school- Even though cyclists should follow the rules of the road, our younger two-wheeled friends may not know what the Road Rules are yet- it’s up to you to be mindful.