Back-to-School Driving . . .

It’s back to school time! School starts next week on Safety Tip Tuesday, September 5! We’re using this week to remind all drivers to be extra careful while driving! More kids are hit by cars near school than in any other location! And the times kids are most likely to be hit? The first hour both before and after school! So be on the look out for kids walking, biking, boarding, scooting, and everything else to and from school!

Dropping Off and Picking Up:

-Carpooling is AMAZING. From a safety standpoint, it helps get cars off the road or at least away from the schools. From a parents’ view, it’s nice to not have to try to juggle getting the kids to school and get to work or an appointment on time (or be forced to put on pants for the day already – no judgment!). Hey! The small act of carpooling the kids to school might even help with climate change!

-If it doesn’t conflict with an individual school’s drop off or pick up procedures, try not to make kids cross the street. Park on the same side of the street as the school or let the children in and out of the car on the same side as the school. If kids are not having to be in the street, the odds of them being hit by a car drop significantly.

-Disabled parking spaces and emergency vehicle lanes are not for drop offs. The only people who should be parking in the disabled spots are people who have an official tag from the state and they should only be used when the disabled person will be getting out of the vehicle and going inside. The only people who belong in the emergency vehicle lanes are us!

-Do not double park! It’s not just rude, it’s a real safety issue! Double parking reduces visibility for both children and other drivers!

Just Sharing the Road:

-Check behind you, in your mirrors, and your blindspot before backing out of your garage, driveway, or parking space.

-Keep your eye out for kids! Whether on foot, bikes, or some sort of other wheeled transportation. Look for kids coming from between cars, out of driveways, or along the shoulder of the road and remember that they won’t always use the crosswalk when crossing the street. Know where bus stops, schools, and playgrounds are along your route. Even if you do not directly pass a school or playground, if you are a street or two or even more away there could be an increased number of children before and after school. Always pay extra attention in residential areas as well! It is often easy for drivers to remember during school hours and maybe an hour before and after school times but don’t forget about kids with extracurriculars or various programs that might arrive at school or leave school late!

-Come to a complete stop at stop signs and red lights! Check the crosswalk or intersection where you are and the one you will be crossing before proceeding.

-Follow the speed limits! Then slow down in school zones and near bus stops and crosswalks. You never know when kids playing around might accidentally end up in the street or a child late for the bus might dart into the road to get the bus stop.

-Pay attention to all of the different signs and indicators around school zones! When does your speed need to be reduced? All the time? During school hours? When specific lights are flashing? Where are the designated crosswalks? How are they marked? Is there a crossing guard of some kind? Follow the directions of all of the signs, flashing lights, and crossing guard.

-Don’t block crosswalks while waiting to turn or at stop signs and red lights. Doing so forces people, including children trying to get to and from school, to go into the road to get around your car and increases their chances of being hit.

-Be patient. Do not rev your engine, honk, or anything else to scare or rush a pedestrian or bike rider, even if you had the right of way. This is especially important with kids. They’re just kids. They’re learning. Their brains are still developing. Remember that many of them are just learning to ride bikes and might still be a bit unstable on their new wheels.

-Do not pass cars, change lanes, or make U-turns in school zones.

-Do not attempt to pass cars that stop to allow pedestrians to cross the street!

-If you need to pass a bicyclist, do so slowly with at least a three feet buffer between you and them. Do not honk or anything else, you might scare them into falling off their bike. If traffic does not allow you to create a buffer, wait to pass the bike rider. Follow behind them slowly until it is safe to pass for BOTH of you.

-Pay attention to where bicyclists are and what they are doing. Many, but especially kids, will make turns without signaling or even looking. Give bike riders the right of way even if it actually yours. If you need to make a right turn but see a bicyclist coming up behind you, let them go through the intersection before making your turn. If you need to make a left turn but see a bike rider coming towards you in the opposite lane, let them go through the intersection before making your turn. Vehicles making turns is the most common type of collision with bicyclists!

-Check your mirrors before opening your car doors when parked on the street to make sure you don’t hit any bicyclists.

-Be patient if you end up stuck behind a bus.

-Allow an extra following distance between you and the bus to give yourself more time to stop when they put out the flashing lights and stop sign.

-Stop at least ten feet from a bus that is loading or unloading children whether you are behind the bus or on the opposite side of the road. Those first ten feet around a bus are some of the most dangerous feet to children. Let kids and other drivers have that extra space to increase visibility, safety, and comfort for everyone!

-Never pass a bus on the right side!

-Remember it is illegal to pass a bus when it puts up the stop sign and turns on the flashing lights!¬†Yellow lights are a warning that it is preparing to stop and red lights mean that they are stopped and children will be getting on and/or off the bus! Wait until the lights stop flashing and the stop sign is retracted before continuing to drive! Children rely on drivers to obey the law and stop for them and, unfortunately, maybe drivers do not stop! Wherever you need to be is NOT more important than a child’s life!

Since our station is located on Main Street, we often see how fast people drive through town, including in front of the high school! Remember, it’s easier to explain to your boss why you’re late than it is to explain to a judge why you killed a child with your car! Let’s have a safe school year for everyone!

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