School is now back in session, which means the roads in your neighborhood which were quiet all summer, are much busier and crowded at the beginning and end of the day. School buses, carpoolers, and excited students both on bikes and on foot have returned to the streets and sidewalks, and it’s important to review safety measures to keep 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:
- Respect the yellow bus: School buses are everywhere! Keep an extra car-length’s distance when driving behind a school bus in anticipation that it will stop frequently during its route. Watch for 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. Remember, excited children don’t always follow the rules and may run out into the street.
- 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 children 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 in traffic without a crossing guard or designated crosswalk.
- Be mindful of bikes: Bicyclists have the same rights on the road and must follow the same laws as any other vehicle. But many kids on bikes are not aware of the rules of the road. Give children on bikes extra space on streets and sidewalks, and keep an eye out for cyclists throughout your car trip, especially when making turns. Be vigilant when driving through neighborhoods, and be mindful of bikes entering the road from driveways, side streets, and sidewalks.
- Teach your children the rules of the road: With that 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 and reach their destination without incident. Bikes should ride on the road in the same direction as other vehicular 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 or ride against traffic.
- Follow the crossing guard’s directions: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.
- Crosswalk safety:It is important that students and their parents use designated crosswalks when crossing the street in or near school zones if there is no crossing guard. 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.
- 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 huge liability. Yes, carpooling keeps cars off the road. But teens are new, and often, inexperienced drivers. The roads are busy, and the area around schools is teeming with cars, bikes, and pedestrians. Distracted driving, due to friends in the car, can lead to an accident or tragedy.
- Review safety precautions, especially for school zones: As we said above, 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 a school. Remind them to put their phone away during the drive, turn the radio or iPod off, strictly adhere to speed limits, and mind crosswalks and walking students 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 lots of foot traffic.
- Make sure your student wears his/her 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 the 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 percentof car crash fatalities are the result of not wearing a seatbelt.
- 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
About Foundation Insurance Group
Headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia and with a mid-west office in Louisville, Kentucky, Foundation Insurance Group is an independent full-service insurance agency specializing in auto, home, life, and business insurance. Since our founding in 1994 the mission has been simple: “Our mission is to provide solid solutions backed by superior service at a competitive price.” For years we’ve partnered with a variety of top rated insurance carriers to fulfill this mission and to provide our clients with tailored insurance programs that fit the unique needs of an individual or business.
The insurance agents and professionals at Foundation Insurance Group 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, bike or walking to and from school. For additional information or insurance help, contact us today, or visit our website: www.foundationinsurancegroup.com.