10 Back to School Driving Tips for Students AND Parents

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10 Back to School Driving Tips for Students AND Parents

School is back in session, which means the roads in your neighborhood that were quiet all summer, just became much busier and crowded at the beginning and end of the day.  School buses, carpoolers, and students both on bikes and on foot have returned to the roads and sidewalks, and it’s important that we all know the proper safety measures to keep our students safe.

With this in mind, here is a short refresher course for students and parents to make sure the new school year gets underway safely:

  1. Respect the yellow bus: Keep an extra car-length’s distance when driving behind a school bus in anticipation that it will stop frequently on its route. Adhere to the red stop sign, by the driver’s window, when the bus is stopped, and never pass a school bus while it is stopped as there could be students getting on, getting off, and preparing to cross the street.
  2. Know your school’s drop-off/pickup procedure: If you drive your kids to school, make sure to learn in advance their school’s procedure for dropping off and picking up students. Schools often have designated lanes and entry doors for drop offs and pickups to keep all students safe during these hectic times. Not knowing where you’re supposed to be can create additional traffic and safety hazards around the school. Never drop off or pick up your kids in a location other than the designated area. Dropping them off elsewhere, for your convenience, like across the street from the school, could put them in harm’s way by forcing them to cross the street without a crossing guard or designated crosswalk.
  3. Be mindful of bikes: Bicyclists have the same rights on the road and must follow the same laws as any other vehicle. but most kids on bikes are not well versed on the rules of the road. Give kids on bikes extra space on the roads and sidewalks, and keep an eye out for cyclists throughout your car trip, especially when making turns. When driving through your neighborhood, also be mindful of bikes entering the road from driveways and sidewalks.
  4. Teach the Rules of the Road: With the last tip in mind, if you plan to send your child to school on a bike make sure they understand the rules and procedures of the road so they can ride safely. Bikes should ride on the road in the same direction as other traffic.  Children should know hand signals for turning, stay to the right, stop at stop signs and red lights, and yield to pedestrians.  Bikers should never ride on the sidewalk.
  5. Adhere to the Crossing Guard: The crossing guard is there for a reason, to keep walkers, bike riders and even cars safe. Listen to his or her directions, even when it appears the road you seek to cross is clear. Never step into the street unless the crossing guard gives you permission to do so.
  6. Crosswalk Safety: It is important that students and their parents use designated crosswalks when crossing the street in or near school zones. Drivers should always stop for pedestrians in crosswalks and wait until everyone has crossed completely and stepped onto the sidewalk before continuing.  Never stop your car in a crosswalk as this may force foot traffic into the road, leaving pedestrians at risk of being struck by a passing vehicle.
  7. Don’t Allow Additional Passengers in you Teen’s Car: While allowing your teen to drive his or her friends to school seems like a convenience, it’s actually a liability. Yes, carpooling keeps cars off the road, but a teen driving more than just themselves, leaves him or her much more likely to be distracted throughout the trip, which can lead to an accident.
  8. Review Safety Precautions, Especially for School Zones: Teens are the least experienced drivers on the road, and many of them don’t grasp the subtleties of driving in a neighborhood, especially near their school. Remind them to turn the radio or iPod off, strictly adhere to speed limits and diligently mind crosswalks in order to maintain their own safety and the safety of others on the road. Both the start and dismissal of school are very hectic times.  Student drivers need to be aware, not only of other cars but also buses and foot traffic.
  9. Force Them to Wear Their Seatbelt: Most new cars on the road have features that encourage seatbelt use like beeping alarms that won’t cease until the driver buckles his or her seatbelt. But there are additional precautions parents can take, like walking their child to their car and watching them put on their seatbelt before sending them off. Constant reminders to wear their seatbelt should also hammer the point home, along with the fact that more than 48 percent of car crash fatalities are the result of not wearing a seatbelt.
  10. Remember NHTSA’s “5 to Drive”: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “5 to Drive” is five reminders parents should give their teens every time they take to the road:
    • No cell phone behind the wheel
    • No extra passengers
    • No speeding
    • No alcohol
    • No driving or riding without a seatbelt

The insurance agents and professionals at Foundation Insurance Group, located in Virginia and the greater Louisville, Kentucky metro area, wish everyone a safe and successful new school year.  These few reminders will ensure that students, teachers, parents, and everyone on the road will stay safe whether in a car, bus, riding a bike or walking to and from school.

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