How Can Drivers Keep Children Safe as They Return to School?

College Park Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Advocate for Clients Injured in Car Accidents.

The lazy days of summer are coming to an end, and a new school year is about to begin. Children get to reconnect with friends they may not have seen all summer, and parents have a bit more flexibility with their schedules now that their youngsters are back in school all day. However, although the children are the ones who are returning to the classroom, this is also a great time for parents to brush up on some important safety tips, particularly when driving in a school zone. From understanding bus safety and avoiding distracted driving to obeying the speed limit in a school zone, it is important that all drivers take extra precautions this time of year to keep children safe as they return to school. If you or your child is involved in a car accident, do not hesitate to contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible.

What Are Safety Tips for Driving in a School Zone?

Drivers must always follow the rules of the road. However, it is particularly important when driving through a school zone where children are crossing the street or riding their bikes. In addition, there are more inexperienced, newly licensed drivers on the roads driving to and from school. You are strongly urged to keep the following tips in mind whenever you are driving in a school zone area:

  • Obey the speed limit. Speed limits in school zones can range from 10 to 20 mph, and it is your responsibility to look for posted speed limit signs and follow them at all times.
  • Avoid distracted driving. Put your phone somewhere out of reach so that you are not tempted to read a text or answer a phone call when driving in a school zone. One moment of distraction can have devastating consequences if a child runs across the street while you are paying attention to your phone, and not on the road ahead.
  • Always yield to the crossing guard. If there is a crossing guard on duty directing traffic and helping children cross the street safely, you must stop and wait for the crossing guard to give the signal that it is safe to continue driving. Be always aware of your surroundings, as young children may run across the street with no warning.
  • Only use the designated drop-off and pick-up zones. The parking lot can be a hectic area, with long lines of cars waiting to drop youngsters off and pick them up. However, as tempting as it may be to park on the street and have your child come to the car, this poses a range of safety concerns. To avoid waiting in long lines, try to arrive early if possible. When dropping your child off, do not hold up the line.
  • Do not block crosswalks. Blocking a crosswalk forces pedestrians to walk around your vehicle and into a lane with oncoming traffic. This is a significant hazard in a school zone.
  • Use caution when backing up. Always use extra caution when driving in a school zone, particularly if you must back up. Pay close attention to pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vehicles in the vicinity of your car, and do not back up until you scan the area and confirm that it is safe to move.
  • Do not double park. This blocks visibility for other motorists and children who are walking or riding their bikes to school.

What Do I Need to Know about School Bus Safety?

School buses are large vehicles that require more time and road space to come to a complete stop. They also have a number of blind spots, which make it difficult for bus drivers to see other vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists that are in the vicinity. The following are important safety tips that you should keep in mind whenever you are sharing the road with a school bus:

  • Do not tailgate. One of the school buses’ blind spots is directly behind the vehicle; therefore, if you are tailgating, the bus driver may not be able to see your vehicle. If the bus driver needs to hit the brakes suddenly for some reason, you are more likely to hit the back of the bus if you are tailgating. If you are driving in front of a school bus, it is also important to maintain a safe distance so that the bus driver has enough time to stop in case you have to hit the brakes.
  • Do not pass a stopped school bus. If a school bus has stopped to pick up or drop off children, it is illegal to pass the bus, regardless of the direction from which you are coming, particularly when the bus’s flashing warning lights are on and the mechanical stop sign arm has been engaged. Do not resume driving until the flashing lights are turned off.
  • Never cut in front of a bus when driving. Bus drivers are trained to maintain a safe following distance between the bus and the vehicle they are following. Even if you think that you can easily fit in the space in front of the bus, you should avoid doing so, as this can increase the risk of a rear-end accident.
  • Slow down. The speed limit in a school zone is usually between 10 and 20 mph, but even if you are not in a school zone, you should slow down when sharing the road with a school bus, particularly when driving in a residential area where the bus is going to make multiple stops to drop off or pick up children.

What Bicycle Safety Tips Should I Keep in Mind?

Many children ride their bikes to school, which means that motorists must use extreme caution when children are riding to and from school. Compared with other vehicles, bikes are more difficult to see, particularly during inclement weather. Although bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as motorists, children do not always understand or follow the rules of the road. Therefore, drivers are urged to keep the following safety tips in mind:

  • Be vigilant when driving in school zones or residential areas.
  • Watch out for bicyclists turning in front of you without signaling.
  • When making a left turn and a bicyclist is approaching from the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass before completing the turn.
  • When making a right turn and a bicyclist is approaching from behind on the right side of the road, let the bicyclist go through the intersection before making your turn. Always use your signal.
  • Always check the side mirror before opening your door.

College Park Car Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King Advocate for Clients Injured in Car Accidents

If you or your child was injured in a car accident on your way to or from school, do not hesitate to contact the College Park car accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Duane O. King. We will conduct a thorough investigation to determine who is responsible for causing the accident. Our skilled legal team will hold the negligent party liable for your injuries and ensure that you receive full and fair financial compensation. Call us today at 202-331-1963 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Washington DC, Alexandria, Virginia, and National Harbor, Maryland, we work with clients in Prince George’s County, including Laurel, Beltsville, Adelphi, College Park, Greenbelt, Mitchellville, Woodmore, Greater Upper Marlboro, Springdale, Largo, Bowie, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Forestville, Suitland, Seat Pleasant, Clinton, Oxon Hill, Temple Hills, and Fort Washington.