With school back in session and most institutions open for in-person classes, traffic may be congested outside schools early in the day and later in the afternoon as parents drop off and pick up their kids.
As you drive past schools, use extra caution and pay attention to school zone traffic limits: when children are present, it’s time to slow down. Here is a refresher on driving safety in school zones:
- Don’t block the crosswalk. This can happen if you’re caught at a red light or if you are making a turn, putting students in potential harm’s way from other traffic as they walk around your vehicle.
- Yield to pedestrians. When you’re in a school zone, yield to pedestrians – and keep a careful eye out for jaywalkers.
- Stop for crossing guards. Always drive slowly near the crosswalks so you can be prepared to stop quickly.
- Watch out for children. Before and after school, these zones are often buzzing with activity. Be on the lookout for kids on bicycles, and beware of kids unpredictably dashing out into the road.
- Don’t pass stopped cars. If the vehicle in front of you has stopped for pedestrians, do not pass.
Additionally, school buses have two types of lights to be aware of:
- Flashing yellow lights: This means the bus is preparing to stop to unload or load children. On two- or four-lane roads without a median, cars on both sides should prepare to stop.
- Flashing red lights: These are usually accompanied by an arm with a small “Stop” sign that extends from the side of the bus. This means that children are in the process of boarding or leaving the bus, and some may need to cross the street.
All drivers must stop and wait until the lights stop flashing, the extended arm retracts, and the bus starts moving again.
Give the bus a wide berth. School buses are large vehicles and are not as maneuverable as smaller vehicles. Give them space to stop and make turns. Remember that school buses are required to stop at railroad crossings before proceeding.
If you are a parent or guardian who drops off and picks up a child at school, you will have an added dimension of risk. To avoid hitting another vehicle or child, here are some tips:
- Get acquainted with the school’s rules for dropping off and picking up kids.
- Don’t double park.
- Don’t load or drop off your child across the street from the school.
- Consider organizing a carpool with a neighbor who has children attending your child’s school.
- Drive extra slowly and be on the lookout for running kids, particularly if you are unloading yours in a school driveway.