The new school year is upon us – now more than ever is the time to pay attention to changing road conditions. Local weekday traffic around schools increases 30 percent or more as school employees, school buses, and families all drive to campus at the same time commuters are leaving for work. Speeding and distracted driving create unnecessary hazards for kids who are walking, biking, and waiting at bus stops.
Refresh your memory with these safety tips:
Tips for Drivers
- Be alert. Observe changing speed limits; it’s the law.
- All vehicle occupants must wear a seat belt; it’s the law.
- Slowdown in residential neighborhoods and school zones, before and after school hours.
- Give pedestrians the right of way at crosswalks. It’s the law.
- Do not use a phone, even hands-free when driving around schools. Most schools prohibit using a phone on a school driveway even when your vehicle is parked.
- Motorists must stop for buses in either direction when bus lights are flashing at bus stops; it’s the law.
- Slow down when passing cyclists, pedestrians, and students at bus stops, and provide at least three feet safe passing distance.
- Keep school air clean. Avoid engine idling on school property.
Tips for Young Walkers
- Children should use the buddy system and walk with other children or an adult whenever possible.
- Parents should educate their children how to observe all traffic signs and applicable laws.
- Stop at the curb and look left, right, and left again before crossing.
- Distracted driving is at an all-time high. Make sure drivers see you before crossing in front of them.
- Walk, don’t run, across the street.
- Only cross the street at corners or designated crosswalks using traffic signals if available.
- Walk facing traffic when sidewalks are not available.
- Do not play in driveways, streets, parking lots or unfenced yards by the street.
- Wear white or bright-colored clothing or reflectors when walking in darkened or foggy conditions.
- Cross at least 10 steps in front of a school bus.
- Children 10 or younger do not have a developed sense of depth and speed; they should only cross the street with an adult or an older child.
Tips for Young Cyclists
- Always wear a proper fitted helmet when cycling.
- All cyclists must observe traffic signs and applicable laws; it’s the law. Parents should teach their children how to safely and properly ride their bike in traffic.
- Make sure the road is clear before entering.
- Always ride in a straight line on the right side of the road in the same direction as traffic.
- Always look backward over your shoulder before turning or moving out onto the road; this takes practice.
- Use arm signals early to warn traffic when turning, stopping, or slowing down.
- Walk, not ride, bikes across crosswalks.
- Parents should inspect brakes, tires, gears, and chains regularly for proper function.
- Always wear bright and visible clothing and use a white front light and a red rear light or red reflector when riding in the darkened or foggy conditions.
Tips for School Bus Riders
- Parents should have children ride school buses when bus routes are available — alleviating unnecessary traffic in school zones.
- Wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
- Do not move around once seated on the bus.
- Make sure to always remain in clear view of the bus driver.
- Children should always board and exit the bus at designated locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.
- Encourage children to practice courteous and respectful behavior while riding the bus to avoid bullying other children or distracting the bus driver.