Christie Stock, president, Discount Tire

school zoneWith the new school year brings a whole new set of dangers. There is a constant flow of school buses picking up children, kids on their bikes rushing to school, and parents trying to get their kids to school and themselves to work on time. These situations can all be potentially dangerous. That’s why it’s important for drivers to slow down and pay extra attention, especially before and after school.

Here are some tips to ensure this next school year is a safe one:

If you’re dropping off

  • Follow the school’s drop-off procedures.
  • Don’t double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles.
  • Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school.
  • Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school.
  • Share the road with young pedestrians.
  • Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn. This forces pedestrians to go around you, which could put them into moving traffic.
  • Stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection in a school zone when the flashers are blinking.
  • Stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign.
  • Take extra care to look for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas.
  • Never pass a vehicle that’s stopped for pedestrians.

Sharing the road with school buses

  • Never pass a bus from behind — or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road — if it’s stopped to load or unload children.
  • Stop if its lights are flashing and its stop arm is extended.
  • Stop far enough behind to give children space to safely enter and exit the bus. The 10-feet area around a school bus is the most dangerous for children.
  • Be alert. Children often are unpredictable and tend to ignore hazards and take risks.

Sharing the road with cyclists

  • When passing a cyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly and leave three feet between your car and them.
  • When turning left and a cyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for them to pass.
  • If you’re turning right and a cyclist is approaching from behind on the right, let them go first, and always use your turn signal.
  • Watch for cyclists turning in front of you without looking or signaling, especially children.
  • Be alert in school zones and residential neighborhoods.
  • Watch for cyclists coming from driveways or behind parked cars.
  • Check side mirrors before opening your door.

By exercising a little extra care and caution, we can keep our families safe.