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In Touch With 21st - August 2013

Back to school driving tips

Back to school driving tips for all ages

Students nationwide will head back to school over the coming weeks, adding thousands of school buses to the roads. With the increased traffic, it’s important for motorists to understand how to safely share the roads with school buses and pedestrians. It is also the perfect time for parents and children to talk about how to stay safe while traveling to and from school.

With that in mind, here are some rules for drivers to remember when school is in session:

• Be aware of school zone signals and always obey the posted speed limits.

• Eliminate all distractions when driving through a school zone. Children often cross the road unexpectedly, or may emerge suddenly between two parked cars, for example.

• In a school zone drivers must stop for children and crossing guards at school crossings and yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a marked crosswalk or at an intersection with no marked crosswalk. Drivers in both directions must stop once a child or guard steps off the curb.

• All 50 states require that traffic in both directions stop on undivided roadways when students are entering or exiting a school bus. State laws vary on what is required on a divided roadway, but in all cases traffic behind the school bus (traveling in the same direction) must stop.

• Never pass a school bus on the right. It is illegal and extremely dangerous.

• When a school bus is trying to merge back into traffic, you must give the bus the right of way.

School bus safety lessons for children

Responsibility for the safety of children does not rest completely with drivers. Children need to be taught the importance of safety as well. The following are some good tips to impart to children:

• Arrive at the bus stop early, so you won’t need to chase after the bus or enter the road for any reason.

• Stand at least two large steps away from the street at all times while waiting for the bus.

• Wait until the bus has come to a complete stop before attempting to board.

• If you drop something while getting off the bus, let the drive know before you bend down to pick it up, as once you do they may not be able to see you. The driver needs to know where you are at all times.

Talk to your teen about safe driving

For parents with teenagers driving to school for the first time, this time of year can be a nerve-wracking. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and more than one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 - 7 p.m. Make sure teen drivers understand the importance of safety in and out of school zones. One way to do this is to stress the importance to your teen of setting a good example as a driver. Encourage them to talk to friends and family about the importance of safe driving.

Some other tactics for keeping your teen safer when driving include having them get a good night’s rest, and to get them in the habit of leaving for school ten minutes earlier than they normally would. This reduces the chances of running late and having to drive faster than they should. Another tip is to leave 5-10 minutes later than the rush that occurs at the end of the school day, as it’s less likely you’ll be involved in an accident due to decreased traffic around the school.

The conclusion

Back-to-school time can be a hectic time for families, with new routines, schedules and young drivers. Driving safely and keeping pedestrians safe is the responsibility of us all. With this in mind, drivers of all ages need to be courteous and respectful, have patience and take their time and exercise good judgment in and around school zones. If you need more time, adjust your schedule to leave a little earlier to compensate for the increased time spent traveling through a school zone or waiting for a bus to load or unload. Families everywhere will thank you for it.

Source: nsc.org; nhtsa.org; defensivedriving.com 

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