9 Safe Driving Tips To Safely Take Children To School
Even with fewer cars on the road, the number of traffic fatalities has not decreased. Car crashes were more severe as drivers sped through empty roads.
Many drivers often don’t pay enough attention, which is already a hazard itself, but more so when children are involved. In this kind of situation, driving habits like passing another vehicle, changing lanes, or making a turn should be given a second thought when going through a school zone. To avoid accidents and keep your child safe while you take them to school, keep in mind the following safe driving tips.
#1 - Stay extra cautious
Kids can pop out of nowhere in school zones. Beware of places like the space between parked cars since this is where kids often appear to cross the street without looking. Bikes may also turn in front of you without signaling, so keep a close eye on your side and rear view mirrors.
Watch out for kids crossing while looking at their phones. Many teens today cross streets while distracted by their phones, increasing the risks of accidents. Always yield to pedestrians on the crosswalks or intersections.
One of the most commonly forgotten safe driving practices is to never pass a vehicle that has stopped for pedestrians. There’s a high chance you’ll crash into people crossing if you fail to recognize the traffic situation.
Even where there are no speed limit signs or Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB), it’s part of safe driving practices to slow down at high-risk intersections and zones. Pedestrians always have the right-of-way, so prioritize their safety to avoid accidents.
Avoid making fast turns and abruptly changing lanes whenever you’re in a school zone. It’s easy to miss small pedestrians crossing the road. A tip to drive safely is to always look at the bigger picture and slowly turn so you can quickly hit the brakes if needed.
#2 - Buckle up your seat belt and use boosters
In 2019, 43% of reported accidents involving 8 to 12 year-olds were not buckled up. Seat belts and booster seats are designed to restrain motion during sudden stops or accidents, preventing further injuries that may even result in fatalities.
Ensure that child restraint systems are worn correctly. Studies show that 46% of booster seats and belts are misused, greatly reducing their effectiveness.
Buckling up and correctly installing the appropriate car seat reduce risks of injury by up to 82% in children compared to when using a seat belt alone.
#3 - Don't go above the speed limit
When driving in school zones, be extra cautious of pedestrians. You’ll share the road with children riding bikes, buses full of students, and other cars with parents dropping off their kids. Traffic is inevitable, so all you can do is be patient. One of the best safe driving tips to remember is to slow down and stay calm.
The speed limit in schools in the United States is 25 mph, though this might slightly vary. Still, this is the safest speed to maintain when you’re driving near schools.
Slowing down not only reduces the chances that you’ll collide with running students or other drivers, but also improves the chance that your kids will avoid major injuries.
To avoid rushing to school, plan early and figure out the routes you can take to avoid traffic. If possible, leave earlier than you used to so you can drive slowly or go on cruise control.
Keep in mind that children are often unable to gauge the speed of approaching vehicles, so they’ll take risks crossing the street. Stay alert and keep your focus on the road, so you can hit the brakes immediately if needed.
#4 - Take note of hotspots
Take note of new and existing bus stops and crosswalks frequented by students. Remember areas where students usually walk or hang around. Be extra alert when driving in these zones so you will have a quicker reaction time when a student suddenly crosses the street. Prepare to stop when needed.
With the ongoing pandemic, social distancing and new guidelines might make it more difficult to spot children crossing or standing on the sidewalk. You’ll usually see children flocking in groups pre-pandemic, but you’ll rarely see them do this nowadays. Kids can be harder to spot, so always slow down when entering school zones.
#5 - Follow the rules for dropping off children
Schools have designated places where you can drop off or pick up your children. Our back-to-school advice for parents is to familiarize where these areas are and strictly follow the traffic procedures to avoid accidents. Stay updated with new policies the school may implement.
Avoid dropping off your children across the street from the school. Park on the side of the road where kids don’t have to cross the street.
#6 - Obey crossing guards
Crossing guards help reduce the risk of accidents that often involve children crossing in school zones. You can easily spot these guards wearing highly visible reflective vests and holding stop signs.
Crossing guards are the first to step into busy streets to stop oncoming drivers and help children cross streets. They’re also the last to leave to ensure the children are safe from rushing motorists.
If you see crossing guards stepping into the streets, expect children to follow. Obey their directions to avoid fatal crashes.
#7 - Maintain your distance from other drivers
School buses have many blind spots. Plus, the spontaneity and carefree attitude of kids increase the risk of accidents.
Children like to dart out of the bus and cross the street without looking. When you see an unloading school bus, our safe driving tip is to assume that children will cross the road, so be especially attentive and get ready to step on the brakes.
Stop when you see a school bus on the sideline unloading children. All states prohibit motorists from passing school buses that are loading or unloading students. Not stopping or illegally passing an unloading school bus can result in fines and demerits. Whether you’re behind the bus or you’re on the other lane driving toward the bus, you must stop until the bus leaves.
It is a common safe driving practice to drive behind a school bus at a greater distance than usual. Allowing some distance gives you more time to react in case the bus suddenly stops.
#8 - Park in the right place
If it will take you more than a minute to drop off your kid, it’s best to look for an appropriate parking spot and keep the lane clear for other drivers.
A safe driving tip to remember is to never park on emergency lanes and spaces designated for handicapped parking. Even if it will only take you a minute, never stop in these zones unless you have the right to do so.
When backing out of a parking space, be on the lookout for children. Kids can spring up out of nowhere in a flash, and relying on your backup camera alone may not be enough to help see the possible hazards. As a safe driving practice, back up slowly and look over your shoulders to make sure the coast is clear.
#9 - Avoid distracted driving
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of road accidents in the US, leading to more than half a million injuries annually. Taking your eyes off the road to use your phone for a few seconds can be extremely dangerous to you, your passengers, and pedestrians.
To help keep your hands off your cell phone, one of the best safe driving tips is to install ‘This App Saves Lives’. It is a free mobile app that is designed to eliminate distracted driving by earning you points for not using your cell phone while on the road. The points you earn can be exchanged for meaningful rewards like discounts and freebies from top-tier brands.
Your kids look up to you as their role model, so they copy what you do. Buckling up, following pedestrian and traffic rules, and sticking with safe driving practices help kids learn the right things to do. Seeing how you avoid using your phone while driving is a good way to teach them safe driving habits they can apply when they get older.
If you really need to use your cell phone, it’s best to pull over safely. Otherwise, put your phone down, keep your hands on the steering wheel, and continue driving undistracted, so your children arrive in school safely.