Think of the morning craziness when dropping off kids – traffic congestion at the school, school buses dropping off, kids on bikes, and rushed parents trying to unload kids before work. The same goes for after school, when everyone is picking up.
According to the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old and they’re walking. This can happen when a motorist illegally passes a stopped school bus.
Pay careful attention to what’s going on around you as you deliver your precious cargo to their school, and when driving through school zones.
Don’t block the crosswalk at a red light or while waiting to make a turn. This can force pedestrians (or cyclists as well) to go around you and can put them in the path of moving traffic. This is a safety issue whether near a school or not.
Here are some specific back to school driving safety tips:
• Most schools have a specific drop-off procedure – make sure you know your school’s protocol and follow it.
• Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school.
• Consider carpooling with someone in your neighborhood. This can reduce the number of vehicles at the school.
• When school zone flashers are on, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the intersection.
• Pay attention to the crossing guards and follow their guidance.
• Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
• Never pass a school bus from behind on an undivided road – it is probably stopped to load or unload children.
• When stopping behind a school bus, stop far enough back to let children enter and exit the bus safely.
• Be alert – children can be unpredictable.
• Pay extra attention to children riding their bikes to school. They are not really able to properly determine traffic conditions.
Drivers have a lot to pay attention to in school zones. When school starts, exercise a little extra care and caution and remember: head up, phone down!
Cinda Seamon is the fire and life safety educator for Hilton Head Island Fire Rescue.