Driving Safely in the School Zone
Could you pass a knowledge test about safe driving rules around schools?
For instance, do you know the speed and distance restrictions, California school bus laws or just the plain common sense things you should do to cut the risk of an accident?
Well let's answer the first two questions before going on to the general rules for safe driving, not just around schools but wherever there are children.
The maximum speed is 25 mph when you're within 500 to 1,000 feet of a school but it may be significantly less. These days, 20 mph or even 15 are increasingly common. Look out for signs. If in doubt, take the slowest route.
As regards buses, this is what the DMV says:
Some school buses flash yellow lights when preparing to stop to let children off the bus. The yellow flashing lights warn you to slow down and prepare to stop. When the bus flashes red lights (located at the top front and back of the bus), you must stop from either direction until the children are safely across the street and the lights stop flashing.
This isn’t just school bus etiquette. It's the law. You can be fined up to $1,000 and lose your driver's license for a year for ignoring it.
Top 10 School Zone Safety Tips
But, of course, there's much more to both driving and pedestrian safety both for parents and children in the school zone. Here are the Top 10 things you should be aware of:
- Allow extra time for your journey. Yes, that can be a tall order when your kids are doing their best to slow down the whole process of getting ready for school. But if you do leave late, plan to arrive late. Don't rush or try to make up time.
- Avoid driving distractions -- that means insisting the children stay calm and as quiet as possible in the car. And, for you, no breakfasting or phone use behind the wheel. If the kids misbehave, stop the car and instruct them -- don’t try to do it while you're driving.
- Find out and observe the parking and other rules when you drop-off at school. Most schools have them. If you don’t know them, ask.
- Talk to your kids about traffic dangers. Insist they only use designated road crossings and follow the instructions of crossing guards. Even consider arriving early for a pick-up now and then so you can monitor their behavior from a distance and "re-direct" them.
- Talk to them too about school bus etiquette and good behavior both on board and when they cross by the vehicle. Young exuberance can be dangerously distracting for school bus drivers. Students should be seated when the vehicle is moving.
- Look out for children emerging into the road from between vehicles. Even if they have road sense, kids often abandon that in the excitement of their activity. Be equally alert at school bus stops. Impatient and excited children waiting for their bus can be a danger to themselves and you.
- Be extra careful if you need to reverse. Again, kids may walk out from between cars and may be too small to easily spot in your rearview mirror.
- Watch for bicyclists at all times. Give them the courtesy of right of way and be cautious when opening doors on either side of your car (kids ride the sidewalks as well as the street).
- Don't creep out into intersection crosswalks. You could block young street crossers or obscure the view of other drivers and pedestrians. Stop fully and wait until it's safe to move on. Always yield to pedestrians on crosswalks.
- If your student(s) cycle to school, be sure to work out the safest route for them and instruct them on safe bicycling behavior. If your young student uses a skateboard, talk to them about road dangers. In both cases, be sure they wear safety helmets. It's the law.
Of course, even if you're not a parent or student, the same driving rules included above apply to you whenever you're driving at or near a school zone.
The New Driver Factor
Every year sees thousands of new teen drivers on the roads of California.
This creates two big risks:
- For you as a driver, be especially aware near high schools of the likelihood that there are inexperienced drivers in your vicinity. They won’t always do what you expect them to do, especially if they are distracted.
- If your student is a new driver, make sure they know and understand all the rules about safe driving especially near the campus. This may mean restricting or totally banning other passengers in their car during the early days, warning them of distractions and speed risks, and making sure they're up to date on the tips given above.
Got the Insurance Protection You Need?
By the way, even the most cautious drivers, those who observe all the rules, can still end up in an accident either through a simple error or by being on the receiving end of someone else's bad driving. The risks around schools are significantly higher.
That's why it's critically important to have good auto insurance. Of course, the law demands that you have liability insurance for any damage or injury you cause to others, but you should consider protection both for your own vehicle and the risk of being involved in a collision with an uninsured driver.
Contact Aldrich Taylor Insurance today for your comprehensive auto insurance quote 1-818-841-2940.
For Their Sake -- and Yours
It's a sad fact that, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission, around 100 children are killed in traffic-related crashes in California each year and around 462 are injured every day in the US.
Some of these obviously will be accidents that weren't connected with schools, but statistically the school campus area is the most common location of road accidents for pedestrians.
More children are hit by cars near school than any other location.
Today, there are more cars than ever on our roads and more kids on the streets. Every driver has a responsibility to be extra-cautious near schools and play areas.
As a driver and a parent, if you're a good role model you'll likely also be increasing their personal safety -- for their sake and yours,