Although summer does not officially end until mid-September, summer is really considered ‘over’ when children head back to school. With the start of a new school year comes perhaps the most chaotic time of the year, and included in the chaos are the dangers of the combined daily rush to school and work.
Although every driver understands the importance of driving safely in proximity to bus stops and school zones, it is easy to get caught up in the routine of the moment. It only takes a second of distraction for a devastating accident to occur.
Read on for our tips on getting your children to school safely, keeping them safe walking on their own, and safely navigating the roads this back-to-school season.
Why Does Going to School Present Such a Danger?
There are a many elevated risks during the hours of traveling to and from school, most of which are caused by human error. Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of accidents, especially when involving pedestrians.
Accidents from distracted driving happen often because of talking or texting on cellphones. When considering that students and parents might also be distracted while in the process of traveling to or from school, it is understandable that the combination of the two could present an imminent danger.
According to a report by Safe Kids Worldwide, 20 percent of high school students cross the street while distracted. According to the research, of the observed students who were distracted, the majority of them were either texting or using headphones. Most of the other students who were distracted were talking on cell phones.
How Can I Stay Safe While Driving In and Around School Zones?
Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents involving pedestrians. It is important that when approaching a school zone that you keep in mind that pedestrians might not be aware of your presence.
Be aware of where school zones begin, and especially be aware of school crossings. Slow down to anticipate a child who might walk out into the street without looking for traffic. This could happen with a child who walks out from between two cars, or a child who is either distracted or in a hurry.
Pedestrians have the right of way. A child crossing the street to school is probably thinking that everyone is aware of it being a school zone, or maybe the child is not thinking at all. Most adults can easily think back to a time when the world evolved around them. Remember that not considering the dangers of surrounding traffic is normal for a young person.
Start your safety preparation for the school year by knowing where the bus stops are in your neighborhood. Be aware of the common paths children in your neighborhood take. If you do not have school-age children, be cognizant of the times of day when school children are going to or coming from school.
It is critical when in school zones that you slow down and do not pressure other drivers to rush. This is important to keep in mind while in residential neighborhoods where buses may be operating as well. Most residential neighborhoods have a speed limit of 25 mph, but that is still too fast when a child may be darting across the street to catch a bus.
School zones are usually less than 25 mph during enter and exit times, and for good reason. There is too much going on during these hours for a driver to safely operate a vehicle when traveling at normal speed. Thus, be aware of the speed limit in school zones. It is also a good idea to keep your foot on or near the brake when driving through a school zone.
Another thing to consider is that there will be newly licensed teenagers driving to high school. This is always a danger. Teenage drivers simply do not have the experience behind the wheel that adults have. Teenage drivers are less likely to consider the consequences of their actions, including driving while distracted. To compensate for other drivers’ potential recklessness, you must anticipate the actions of other drivers during times of school travel a bit more than during normal times, especially around school zones.
School buses make frequent stops. It is also common for school buses to drop off children on major or well-traveled roads. This includes dropping children off directly in front of their homes.
The safest scenario around school buses is never to pass them, and never be in a hurry around them. When a school bus has its stop sign out, every vehicle on the road should be stopped, with plenty of room to spare. Do not anticipate that all the children have cleared the area around the bus after being dropped off. Instead, wait for the bus to leave and slowly release your brakes as you look for that unexpected child.
Children trying to catch the bus before it heads toward school are especially difficult to spot. A child might run across the street without thinking about traffic. Do not rely on the signals of the bus alone. Keep looking, and do not take off quickly.
For parents who are dropping off or picking up children, there are basic rules that could help you keep everyone safe. Schools usually have rules for drop-offs and pickups. Do not pass other vehicles to speed up the process; there are too many children around who could quickly walk in front of your vehicle. Remember that curbs in front of schools are usually off-limits. Many schools have curbs allotted for school buses and emergency vehicles only. It is best to keep away from dropping your children off across the street from the school, which would require your children to cross a street in the midst of pick-up and drop-off chaos.
Keep your eyes peeled for crossing guards, and obey their signals. It is also a good idea to look carefully on your own when near a crossing guard: where there are crossing guards, there may be children walking.
How Can Children Stay Safe Traveling To or From School?
The best way for a child to remain safe during school days is to talk to them about safety. It starts with catching the bus: children should remain on the sidewalk and away from the street when waiting for the bus. Help your children understand that not all cars will be looking out for them or anticipating their every movement.
Children should know and use crosswalks that are put in place for them to safely cross the street. They should observe stop lights and stop signs as well. Most importantly, students should never run past cars around school zones. The driver of a car might not be aware that they are taking off.
For young drivers heading to school, they must learn the rules the same as anyone else, and be aware of other children who are still walking to school the same as they once did. For children getting on or off the bus, make sure that all traffic is stopped before you cross the street. It is especially important to walk out to the street in front of the bus and not behind it.
Dayton Car Accident Lawyers at Wright & Schulte LLC Represent Those Injured by Negligent Drivers
If you or a loved one have been injured due to the careless actions of a driver in or around a school zone, you need a competent lawyer to represent you. Our Dayton car accident lawyers at Wright & Schulte LLC will fight hard to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us at 937-222-7477 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Vandalia and Dayton, Ohio, we serve clients throughout Ohio.