Back to school safety: tips for drivers as we launch into Fall

Parents and teachers spend a lot of time reminding students to practice safety when walking or riding their bikes to school. However, students aren’t the only ones who need to brush up on their safety skills as a new school year begins. As busses return to the roads, and in-person learning restarts, It’s imperative for drivers of all ages to reacquaint themselves with safe driving practices, too.

While some of the most dangerous days of driving belong to summer, going back to school has its own set of perils for both students and drivers alike. Taking time to remind yourself of what to watch out for, and then preparing for how to handle these situations, can go a long way toward keeping everyone safer.

Remember to allow extra time to get to school or work. There are more people on the road and speeding is still the number one cause of accidents, and was found to be a factor in more than 30% of all fatal crashes.  Getting there late is better than not getting there at all.  Busses and their frequent stops can slow you down, but those flashing lights are there to keep our littlest ones safe!  

Even though it sounds obvious, save calls and texts for after arriving safely at your destination – nothing is that important, and if it is, pull over. Eating, putting on makeup and searching for music all add to the horrific statistics for casualties and injuries.  

All too often, drivers are distracted or not paying attention and drive into school zones too quickly — even though warning signs, speed bumps and flashing lights let them know they’re approaching a school zone. Learning where school zones are along your regular route will help you properly prepare for them by reducing your speed gradually.  More children are hit by cars in areas closest to school zones, which stands as an important reminder to be hyper aware of our surroundings.  

School bus drivers face special challenges on the road. Bus drivers have a large vehicle that has blind spots all around and requires more time to stop. Other drivers sharing the road with buses should adopt driving habits that help make the roads safer for everyone. Here are a few important rules to remember:

Always maintain a safe following distance. Keep as much space as possible between your vehicle and the bus in front of you. If you’re in front of a school bus, it’s important you’re paying attention to traffic and situations on the road that will prevent you from slamming on your brakes, which could create a situation where a bus driver doesn’t have sufficient braking time to avoid a crash.

In traffic, avoid “cutting” in front of a bus. Many bus drivers leave a safe following distance between the bus and the car ahead of them to ensure a safer environment for passengers. Even if your car can fit into the space, drivers should always avoid cutting in front of a bus or transit vehicle.

Watch for buses that are loading or unloading children. Be prepared to stop when the bus stops. The most dangerous area around a school bus is the space 10 feet around the vehicle since this radius falls into the driver’s blind spot. Be sure to stop more than 10 feet behind a school bus to allow passengers a safe space for entering and exiting.

Never pass a stopped school bus. No matter what state you live in, it’s illegal to pass a school bus that has stopped to load or unload children. This rule includes passing a bus from either direction, so any time you approach a school bus that has stopped to pick up or unload children, you need to stop as well.

Back-to-school time is busy for parents, children and bus drivers, so each one must do their part to help make the roads safer and look out for others around them.  Rolf’s Import Auto Service is proud to provide high quality service to keep automobiles safe on the roads we share.  We want to wish everyone returning to school this Fall a happy and healthy return. 

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