Back to School Means Being Extra Aware
Kids of all ages are on the roads and sidewalks as our children head back to school. A few precautions go a long way toward keeping our children safe.
Statistics Remind Us of the Danger
According to a 2012 study by SafeKids.org, 61 children are hit by cars every day in the United States, most often during the hours before and after school, and peaking in September. This reminds us that we all need to take extra care when driving as our children return to school.
Sharing the Road with School Buses
It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
- 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; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks
Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians
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.
- 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
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
Sharing the Road with Bicyclists
On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles. 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.
- When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist
- When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass
- If you’re turning right and a bicyclists is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, and always use your turn signals
- Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this
- Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods
- Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars
- Check side mirrors before opening your door
Remember to safely share the roads with school buses, pedestrians and bicyclists. Being extra attentive will insure everyone gets home safely from school and other activities.
Information for this article was obtained from the National Safety Council website.
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