When school returns after the summer break, it seems that just about everyone returns to familiar routines. Students return to classes; parents resume their usual drop-off and pick-up schedules; and traffic patterns on major roads and side streets become busy with school children, school buses, parent carpools, and all kinds of other commuters.
Traffic and the dangers of car accidents threaten the safety of all road users at all times of year, but when drivers are just getting used to a return to the hustle and bustle of the first few weeks of a new school year, it can be helpful to review a few reminders to keep drivers aware of how to engage in safe driving behaviors to keep everyone safe, from young students walking to class, older children biking it to school, harried parents trying to manage a school drop-off before they are due in the office, or school bus passengers who may not be paying attention to the traffic situation around them at the bus stop.
To keep everyone safe on the roads during the busy back-to-school season and throughout the school year, drivers should pay attention to the following.
Tips for All Drivers
Slow down in school zones. The rules of the road are different during the school year in areas near schools. Speed limits are decreased. Crossing guards are present. Students, parents, and other vehicles appear in the early mornings and at afternoon dismissal. Drivers should be cognizant of how traffic may be impacted at these busy times of day. Even farther away from the school building, drivers should be aware of increased activity at bus stops and in neighborhoods in the hours before and after school.
Expect children to be unpredictable. Remain alert and cautious whenever children are in the area. Although it may not be wise or expected, children can be unpredictable and unsafe around traffic. Drivers should anticipate possible impulsive or risky behavior, making an extra effort to remain on the lookout for unexpected danger.
Yield to pedestrians. No matter who has the right of way, it is best to yield to pedestrians, especially if they are children. Being forgiving and accommodating to people crossing the street creates a safer environment for everyone.
Be careful around buses. School bus drivers must adhere to safety protocols to keep their passengers safe, but once those students walk off the bus, their safety is out of the bus driver’s control. Though it is illegal, an impatient driver could easily ignore the bus’s flashing warning lights and go flying past a bus without thinking that the bus just let off a young child unaware of the danger of the oncoming vehicle. It is vital that drivers obey school bus safety protocol. Never pass a stopped bus that is receiving or unloading distracted and vulnerable children.
Do not block crosswalks. It can be dangerous for pedestrians to have to walk around a car in a crosswalk. They may be forced to get too close to other traffic. Be mindful of leaving crosswalks open for the safety of pedestrians.
Obey crossing guards. Crossing guards are stationed at busy intersections to help students get safely to and from school. These officials have the authority to stop traffic to accommodate the children in their charge. Drivers must obey crossing guards who use handheld stop signs or hand signals to halt traffic.
Leave space for cyclists. Students and other commuters use bikes to get where they are going. Drivers must share the road. Drivers should never get within three feet of a cyclist. Allow a cyclist approaching from behind to pass first, before making a right turn. When turning left, be especially watchful for cyclists approaching from the opposite direction; allow them to pass before proceeding. Always use turn signals when turning.
Tips for Parents Dropping Off at School
Do not double-park at drop-off. Although creating a parking space may seem to be a time-saver on a busy school morning, double-parking on a busy road can block the view of children trying to cross the street. Better to take a few extra minutes to wait for an open parking spot than to obstruct another driver’s view and be responsible for an accident that injures a child.
Park on the school-side, if possible. If given a choice, it is always better to park on the side of the road that prevents young passengers from having to cross traffic to get to school. If crossing the road is unavoidable, make sure to escort youngsters to the other side of the road rather than letting them out of the car to cross themselves.
Tips for Teen Drivers
Wear a seat belt. The number one safety tip for all drivers, using a seat belt is the best way for one to prevent serious injury in the event of an accident. Insist that all passengers also buckle up.
Avoid distractions. Do not use a smart phone or listen to loud music when driving. Having friends in the car can also be cause for dangerous distraction. Keep focus on the road and be prepared to react to unexpected dangers that might arise.
Leave enough time. Drivers who are running late, in their haste, can create unnecessary danger on the roads. Students, especially, should leave themselves extra time so they do not feel rushed and can pay attention to driving safely without worrying about the clock.
Hazlet Car Accident Lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova Represent Clients Hurt in Serious Accidents
If you were involved in a serious car accident that left you or a loved one with severe injuries, you should be able to collect damages from the person who caused the accident. The Hazlet car accident lawyers at Mikita & Roccanova can determine what happened and identify who was responsible for the accident that caused the injuries. We can also uncover evidence to prove the negligence at play and establish legal liability that will be the basis for your compensation for the damage suffered in the accident. Call us at 732-705-3363 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation. Located in Hazlet and Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in Ocean County and Sussex County, and Pennsylvania.