School is officially in session. And while kids are brushing up on their math and language arts skills, it’s important for drivers to slow down and keep an eye out for kids around schools and their neighborhoods. Here are some driving tips to keep in mind as kids head back to the classroom.
- School Zones - it’s important to pay attention to the school zone areas around schools. Most often, schools have flashing lights with a posted speed limit sign for school zones during the morning drop off and afternoon dismissal. However, pay close attention during off hours when the lights come on for sports or band practices or other school events. Speeding fines are typically doubled in school zones.
- Bus Safety - Take extra precaution when you’re behind or approaching a school bus. It’s important to give the bus enough space if you’re behind it and to give kids enough space to cross the street, as you’re approaching a bus. Many buses have retractable crossing “arms” that keep kids safely out in front of the bus when crossing the street and visible to other drivers. And remember, it is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
Drop Off Procedures- I f you’re a parent and regularly drop kids off to
school or take turns in a car pool, it’s important to plan ahead and understand
your school’s drop off and pick up procedures. Some general tips to keep in
mind from the National
Safe Routes to School Program are:
- 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.
- Stay Alert - As a parent or driver around schools, it’s important to avoid distractions in the car such as cell phones or other electronic devices. Make sure your driving skills are on point, too. Make full stops at stop signs and leave enough room for kids to cross the street. It’s also a time to teach kids by example. Your attention to safety and caution while driving will resonate with them, especially teens, when they’re ready to get behind the wheel.
- Be Prepared for More Traffic - This goes for any one traveling in the mornings or afternoons during the beginning of the school day or end. There are more cars on the roads during these peak commute times. It’s important to not only watch out for kids and children traveling on foot or by bike, but keep an eye out for other motorists or school buses making sudden stops. It’s always a good idea to allow a few extra minutes in the beginning of the school year to determine a new route or longer commute if necessary.
With all of these tips in mind, talk to you kids about transportation safety and walking or riding around school. Check to make sure they understand the basics of traveling to and from school and explain safety tips they can relate to.
For All Drivers:
- Drive cautiously through school zones. Most often, schools have flashing lights with a posted speed limit sign for school zones during the morning drop off and afternoon dismissal. However, pay close attention during off hours if the lights come on for sports or band practices or other school events. Speeding fines are typically increased in school zones.
- Watch for crossing guards. They’re usually easy to spot with high-visibility gear or handheld stop signs. Crossing guards and patrol officers help kids cross the street safely, so yield to their instructions.
- Leave space for buses. The 10 feet surrounding buses is where kids are most likely to get hurt. If you are behind the bus, leave more following distance than you would for a car. This gives ample space for the bus to make complete stops. If you are approaching the bus, allow at least 10 feet for the kids to safely cross the street in front of you.
- Do not pass a stopped bus. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a bus that is stopped to load or unload children. If you see flashing yellow or red lights and the bus extend its arm, traffic must stop.
- Stay alert. It’s always important to avoid distractions in the car, such as cell phones or other electronic devices. This is especially true in pedestrian-heavy zones, like schools, parks and residential areas.
- Be prepared for traffic. Drop off and pickup times are peak commute times. Leave early and watch for other cars, buses, pedestrians and bikers.
For School Drop-Off and Pickup Lanes
- Don’t double park. All parents are eager to get in and out, but double parking blocks visibility for other children and vehicles.
- Follow the flow. If you’re in a rush, it might be tempting to drop your kids off across the street – but crossing traffic can be dangerous. Use the school’s designated drop-off (and pickup) lanes to avoid unnecessary street crossings.
- Carpool with other families. Consider sharing driving duty with other families in your neighborhood. This will reduce the number of vehicles (and traffic problems) at the school. Plus, you'll earn a gold star for being environmentally friendly!
Finally: Remember to talk to you kids about transportation safety and walking or riding around school. Check to make sure they understand the basics of traveling to and from school, like looking both ways before they cross the street. Their teachers can help you explain safety tips in an age-appropriate way.
At Erie Insurance, we value your family’s safety. We are always thinking about ways to protect you, your loved ones and your vehicle — both this school year and every year. Talk to your local ERIE agent today to find the right auto insurance coverage for you and your family.