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It’s that time of year. The students dread it, of course. Unfortunately, some of us dread it too. School buses will be taking over your neighborhood side roads and main roads, school zone speed limits are in effect, and kids are walking and biking to and from school. You have to be cognizant about all of this, as it can directly affect your daily commute and more. The last thing you want is to have to rush to your job every day for ¾ of the year. But the first thing we feel obligated to go over is how to drive safely now that school is in effect, for you, others on the road, and for the children walking to and from school.
Have a Child Going to School Yourself?
When it comes to dropping your kids off at school, safety always comes first – kids get hit by cars more often at school zones than any other locations. That’s a serious reason to follow these tips on back to school safety if you’re dropping your kids off:
- First and foremost, consider carpooling – if you are friends with and trust another parent and their kid(s), they live near you and take their kids to the same school, it might be a good idea to ask if they can take your child there as well – this helps reduce road congestion and will help you get to your job on time
- Never load up or drop children off across the street from school – always drop them off as close to the school as permitted so they never have to cross the road to get to school
- Never double-park (parking in two spaces at once) even if you are in a rush – it’s the law for good reason, and in this particular case, it can block access for other cars as well as visibility for other cars and children attempting to get into school safely
We cannot overstate how important it is to recognize the increase of child pedestrians as school starts. Know how to share the road with them safely.
There Will Be Kids Walking – Know How to Safely Share the Road with Them
Kids are much less likely to know how to be safe pedestrians than you are to know how to be a safe driver. It’s your job to take precautions.
- Never block a cross-walk, which means take it slow when you know one is coming up – if you block the cross walk, you’re forcing kids to walk around your vehicle, which can potentially put them in the way of oncoming traffic
- Never, ever pass a vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians – this may go without saying but if you see a vehicle stopped during the school year, even if they have their hazards on, slow down to see if they are stopped for pedestrians and if they are, do so as well
- When lights are flashing in a school zone, yield for pedestrians, and listen to patrol officers (it’s their job to have the best view on the children)
- Always take caution and drive slowly around school zones, parks, and all residential areas
- Never try to pass a school bus – if they have their stop sign out, stop – and stop even if they don’t (bus drivers can make mistakes)
- When it comes to pedestrians, especially children, right-of-way isn’t always the safest route – yield for pedestrians, even if you have the right-of-way, to avoid pedestrian accidents
- When a bus puts its red lights on and expands its stop sign, wait behind them, even if there are two lanes (don’t pull up to the stop sign, stop behind the bus), even after the bus departs and lowers their stop sign, YOU yourself must ensure there are no more lingering children crossing the street before accelerating – not all children know the safe rule of crossing behind the school bus, and not all bus drivers can see if one is crossing in front – taking this precaution is all to necessary
Now that we’ve gone over some safety measures you can take to protect yourself and others, let’s go over how you can be smart and safe about getting to work on time, even with back-to-school road congestion.
Think Out Your New Route
You might be used to an easy route out of your neighborhood, onto the main road, and then onto the highway to get to where you need to go. Now that the buses are on the road, you’ll have to reroute your route, both safely and wisely…
- After Labor Day, you’ll see busses starting to roam your neighborhood – it’s time to start adding time to your morning routine
- Take a mental note of every time (on the dot) you get held up behind a school bus and exactly where (also, on the dot)
- Find detours to avoid these bus stops
- Rarely do we ever see school busses making a left onto a main road without a traffic light there – unfortunately, this might hinder you as well if you’re stuck behind a bus – we don’t suggest you ever make a left turn without a light, especially on dangerous road with multiple lanes
- If this is the case, we suggest scouting your neighborhood to see if there’s another way out of it and onto your course – suburban neighborhoods like Long Island are designed with so many different ways to get to where you need to go, even straight toward the highway out of your development
- Always put a safe distance between you and the bus in front of you – it is dangerous to follow too closely to a bus in general, but atop that, if you are passing a light, and you can’t see above the bus, you may run a red light while they’re going through a yellow light you simply cannot see
- Synchronize what you’ve learned within the first few weeks of school to find a quicker route to work and give it a try (with extra time in the morning still)
- Lastly, remember, that road congestion isn’t reserved for the morning; extra-curricular activities may overcrowd the road on your commute home as well
So, know the extra safety precautions we all must take when school starts next week, and follow them. More and more kids are driving to school. And even though it’s always every driver’s obligation to be safe on the road, the fact remains that these kids may not have as much driving experience as you. Going to sleep a little earlier and adding time to your morning routine so you can safely share the road with school buses is paramount to your safety and the safety of others on the road.
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