Summer is almost over— soon nearly 54 million children across the nation will be back on our roads, walking and biking to school. Motorists need to be extra careful while driving during the times children are traveling to and from school.
Drivers should always slow down and obey all traffic laws, especially when traveling in school zones. The speed limit in and around most school zones is 15 or 20 mph, and special speed limit signs, often with flashing lights, are posted to alert motorists that they are entering a school zone. Drivers should be more alert in these zones because there are a higher number of pedestrians. Keep distractions, like cell phones or conversations with passengers, to a minimum. Although motorists should always observe traffic laws, they need to be especially conscious of their driving while in school zones, near playgrounds, or in neighborhoods where children might be traveling to and from school.
Children can move quickly, and often are not aware of nearby traffic. Be ready to stop at a moment’s notice for an inattentive pedestrian. Because many are small children, they can be more difficult to see and might not know the rules of the road. When you see children waiting to cross the street, try to make eye contact with them so that they will be aware of your presence. Remember that pedestrians and bicyclists have the right of way if you are turning. Always follow any instructions given by a crossing guard.
On a two-lane road, motorists approaching from both directions are required to stop for a school bus with its red lights flashing or stop sign out. On a four lane road, only vehicles traveling in the same direction must stop. A driver should never pass a school bus that is loading or unloading children. Be aware that school buses make frequent stops and must stop for all railroad crossings. While they might slow your drive down, safety is more important.
With a little extra attention, drivers can ensure that our nation’s children are safe when traveling to and from school.