Schools throughout the state will soon be starting their 2010-2011 school year. Young people will be out in force – walking, biking, and busing to school.
It is critical for drivers to be alert, especially near school zones, playgrounds and bicycle paths. Traffic patterns will change as school buses and parents taking their children to school join other motorists on the road, and this will affect morning and afternoon commutes. Whatever route you drive, expect this additional traffic and prepare by allowing extra time to reach your destination.
The National Safety Council reports that drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be involved in a crash. Using a cell phone or texting can be the distraction that leads to tragedy, especially when children are going to and coming from school.
Motorists also need to remember state law regarding school buses. Drivers must stop when approaching or following a school bus displaying warning signals while loading or unloading children. Be alert to the fact that children may not be aware of traffic and dart unexpectedly into the roadway.
AAA offers the following advice for motorists to keep children safe as they navigate their way through school zones.
Follow the speed limit. School zone speed limits are purposefully set low. Children are unpredictable and may have difficulty gauging the distance and speed of an approaching car.
Come to a complete stop at intersections with stop signs. Research shows that more than one third of drivers roll through stop signs inschool zones or neighborhoods.
Always stop for loading or unloading school buses. It may be tempting to drive around stopped school buses, but not only is it dangerous, it’s against the law.
Eliminate driver distraction. AAA research shows that taking your eyes off the road for two seconds doubles your chances of crashing.
Putting down your phone makes you a safer driver and sets a good example for young passengers and pedestrians.
Plan Ahead. Leave early for your destination and build in extra time for congestion. Modify your route to avoid school zones and traffic.
- Parents need to Talk to their children about riding a bus or walking to school in a safe manner. If they ride a bike, please make sure they wear a helmet and follow traffic laws.
Our children are our future. Let’s protect them. Returning to school is a milestone for our children. Help them reach this milestone safely.