With the back-to-school season almost here, it's more important than ever to watch out for young pedestrians when you're driving.
The return of the school year means that more kids will be on the road, whether it’s walking to their bus stop, home or to school. As a driver, it’s imperative for you to practice safe driving in neighborhoods, around playgrounds and through school zones, as children are typically smaller and more difficult to see from the driver's seat.
Here are some important tips to keep in mind when it comes to sharing the road with young pedestrians.
Always practice safe driving
Regardless of where you are, you should always practice these safety measures when driving near all pedestrians.
- Come to a complete stop at crosswalks for crossing pedestrians.
- Obey the posted speed limit and slow down in a safe, controlled manner.
- Yield to pedestrians and cyclists when turning.
- Use your mirrors to check your vehicle for passing cyclists and pedestrians before opening your car door.
Anticipate where the kids will be
Children can be unpredictable and rather oblivious about traffic rules and road etiquette, and may even walk into the street without looking around. It’s up to you to be on the lookout for any sort of sudden or erratic behavior from kids when you’re driving through neighborhoods and around child-dense areas.
Practice safe driving in school zones
A school zone is an area near a school district. These zones will have reduced speed limits (usually between 15 and 25 miles per hour) during specific hours, because this is when children, students and pedestrians will be most active in the area.
- Never block the crosswalk - you’ll force pedestrians into moving traffic
- Obey the traffic officers in school zones - they take precedence over traffic signs and signals
- Don’t honk or use your vehicle to intimidate pedestrians
- Do not pass a vehicle that’s stopped for pedestrians (especially school buses!)
Check out our full post on how to drive in a school zone!
Share the road with school buses
If your daily commute involves a neighborhood or school zones, chances are that you’ll encounter more school buses along your route.
- Do not pass stopped school buses, especially if it has its lights flashing.
- Be wary of kids loading or unloading from the bus
Don’t forget bike rules
A good chunk of kids will opt to bike to school. This can be a greater threat for you as a driver, because many kids will not be fully educated about safe biking in traffic. As such, it’s up to you be remain vigilant and practice extra caution around young cyclists.
- Always allow about three feet of space between you and the cyclist
- Most children will not signal when turning on their bike. Be sure to pay attention to riders in front of you for any sudden turns.
- Pay special attention to parked cars and driveways, as children could be emerging from these hard-to-.see areas.
- If you’re turning left and a cyclist is coming your way, wait for them to pass before you turn.
- If you’re turning right and a cyclist is coming behind on your right, let them go through the intersection first.
- Always use your turn signals to alert vehicles, riders and pedestrians around you.