Kids are back to school on Monday, August 24—a big adjustment not only for children and parents but also for drivers on Amarillo roads. Traffic gets a little bit crazy during the school year, especially in the first few weeks as everyone gets used to buses everywhere, kids on bikes, and harried parents trying to drop their kids off before work.
When children are present, particularly before and after school, drivers must slow down and pay attention. Here are some more tips for driving safely during the back-to-school season and beyond.
Dropping Kids Off at School
Most schools have specific drop-off procedures for the school year. Make sure you know the rules for your child’s school and observe them for the safety of all kids. The following rules apply to all school zones:
- Don’t double park (it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles).
- Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school.
- Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school.
Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians
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 on foot—they are hit by the bus or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. Here are precautions to keep young pedestrians safe:
- Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you (this could put them in the path of moving traffic).
- In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection.
- Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign.
- Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas.
- Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way.
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
- Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way.
Sharing the Road with School Buses
If you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load to unload children. Here are some other guidelines for sharing the road with school buses:
- Never pass a bus from behind (or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road) if it is stopped to load or unload children.
- If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop.
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children (stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus).
- Be alert at all times, as children are often unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks.
Please follow these tips for a safe school year, and call Aardvark Automotive when you need auto repairs and maintenance!