Going back to school has its challenges — and we don't just mean the early mornings, homework, and tests. When you're driving in school zones, you need to be especially aware of your surroundings. But don't sweat it. These back-to-school driving safety tips will give you the confidence you need to start off the school year on the right foot (pedal).
Always Slow Down Around Schools
The first thing you need to do when entering a school zone is slow down. You'll probably see a traffic sign warning you of lower speed limits. That's because school zones are especially prone to accidents. Between excited children, parents in a rush, and newby teenage drivers, a lot can go wrong. If you slow down, you have a better chance of avoiding accidents.
Look Out for Increased Foot Traffic Near Schools
Children are unpredictable and don't always understand the dangers of their actions. Thus, you shouldn't be too surprised to see a child dash across the road, completely missing the cross-walk. On top of that, since children are short, it can be hard to spot them behind parked cars and trucks.
Teenagers aren't always more careful. For example, they can be glued to their phones and not look both ways before crossing. Or they can be so half-asleep with their headphones in that they don't hear cars coming.
It's on you to make sure pedestrians cross the road safely. Drive slowly, be prepared to stop at unexpected places, and always keep your eyes on the road for increased foot traffic while driving.
Never, Ever, Ever Double Park
Double-parking reduces visibility and can cause accidents. If a child is preparing to cross the road, they won't see if there are any cars coming. Likewise, drivers won't be able to see the child either. This whole problem can be avoided if you stick to parking in the designated spots.
Be Extra Careful Around School Buses
School buses make a lot of stops to pick up and drop off children. And as you know if you paid attention in driver's ed class, it's illegal in all 50 states to pass a stopped school bus. We get it, you're in a rush to get to school, get back home, or clock in at work — but the law is there for a reason.
Most accidents happen under 10 feet away from the bus. Often, because drivers don't follow the law, try to pass school buses, and end up hurting children.
Even if you don't see a child going into or coming out of the bus, slow to a stop. Once the bus gets on its way again you can start going too. You'd be surprised by how many people don't think school bus traffic laws are a big deal.
Share the Road Safely with Bicycles
You'll surely come across more than a few cyclists near school zones. It's a good idea to brush up on safety tips for sharing the road with bikes. The most important is remembering to keep at least three feet between your car and the bike. If the biker needs to swerve to avoid gravel, stones, or a pothole, they won't ram into your car (ouch).
Avoid Distractions While Driving (Yes, Really)
We know you know this, but we have to stress it again: avoid getting distracted while driving — especially around schools. That means not touching your phone (not even to check your notifications!), turning down your music, and pausing that irresistible audiobook. All it takes is one small distraction.
Be a Safe Back-to-School Driver
If you want to make sure you've got what it takes to drive safely, why not take a defensive driving course? You'll learn how to deal with distracted pedestrians, anticipate problems, and prevent accidents. By the end of the 100% online course, you'll be a better, more confident driver.