A new academic year is beginning, which means our roadways are busier.
The back-to-school routine is a cherished rite of passage for many families. Summer is coming to an end, and new learning opportunities await eager minds.
Many children are again waiting at designated spots in their neighborhoods for buses to pick them up. Some students either walk or ride bicycles to school, while others are driven there by parents.
So it’s crucial for motorists to be aware of the added traffic on their morning and afternoon commutes. Young people are not always very mindful about the rules of the road, so drivers must use precautions in sharing the streets. Some children have a habit of darting out in the street between parked cars, and this can take drivers by surprise.
“According to research by 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. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus,” the National Safety Council wrote on its website. “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 or unload children.
“On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be hard to see,” according to the NSC. “Children riding bikes create special problems for drivers because usually they are not able to properly determine traffic conditions. The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist.”
Schoolchildren involved in vehicular accidents are quite often struck by parents either dropping their own kids off or picking them up. So people driving in the vicinity of school buildings need to pay particular attention to what’s occurring all around them. They would undoubtedly want other motorists to be just as conscientious about their children’s safety.
While some schools are tucked away in more remote residential sections of neighborhoods, others are on busy streets. This can increase the risks for students crossing them.
Be aware of school zones located along regular travel routes. Know where the crosswalks are, and adjust the vehicle’s speed to comply with state-mandated limits while going through these sections.
Don’t be surprised to see students arriving at their schools very early in the morning or leaving later in the evening. During most periods of the day, young people are likely to be in the area.
So keeping an eye out for children near schools any time of the day or night is strongly advised. Drivers may be inclined to let their guard down at certain periods. Resisting this temptation can avoid a disaster.
Motorists also must be mindful of crossing guards and police officers working in areas to keep children safe. They can be injured as well, so become familiar with who’s performing these functions and where they are normally stationed.
Developing good habits while driving near schools can prevent accidents and save lives. We share the road with motorists and pedestrians alike.
Parents also should speak with their children about exercising caution when traveling to and from school. Let’s look out for each other and get through this year without any unfortunate incidents.