Back to School Driving



Back to School Driving

A new school year is just around the corner, meaning frantic mornings trying to get everyone out the door and to school (and work) on time. In the hustle and bustle, you may be impatient and hurried. Careless driving is especially dangerous near school zones where there are plenty of kids milling about. According to the National Safety Council, most incidents involving kids happen in close proximity to a school.

The start of the school year presents many obstacles to drivers; there are plenty of pedestrians, bicyclists, cars, and buses. In your rush to get your children to school by the time the bell rings, consider adding additional time for your morning commute and follow these back to school safe driving suggestions:


Before and after school, sidewalks and streets are filled with children.  Kids can be unpredictable and unaware of their surroundings or the risks. Many kids lose their lives in bus and car incidents while walking. Be on alert for sudden movements and school zone traffic safety laws . Here are some additional safe driving tips to help keep everyone safe:

  • Do not pass a vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians
  • When you’re in a school zone and the flashers are blinking, you must stop and yield to pedestrians in the crosswalks or intersections.
  • Do not block the crosswalk while waiting at a red light or preparing to turn.
  • You must always stop for a crossing guard or school patrol officer who is holding a stop sign.
  • Always use extra caution and be on the look-out for children around schools, playgrounds, parks and residential areas.


Kids on bikes are even more of a challenge. They can go fast, make sudden movements and come out from seemingly nowhere. Kids on bicycles, like pedestrians, do not always follow traffic rules and can be oblivious to their surroundings. Here are some school safety driving tips to help you avoid hitting hard-to-see bicyclists:

  • Be extra careful and watchful for bicyclists near schools, parks, and residential areas. Be on alert for bicyclists coming from in between parked cars and driveways.
  • When you’re making a left-hand turn and notice a bicyclist coming from the opposite direction, let the bike pass before turning. In fact, most bike and car incidents happen when vehicles are turning left.
  • If a bicyclist is coming from behind you and you’re turning right, leave at least 3 feet of space ( on the side of the road and allow the bike to pass before you turn.
  • Anticipate sudden movements and child riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling.
  • Check your side mirrors before opening your car door and always use your turn signals.


You can’t complete the back to school chaos without buses. Yes, buses can be slow and you sure don’t want to be behind one when it stops to pick-up or drop off kids. Kids die in school bus-related incidents at drop-off and pick-up sites every year. Most of these are a result of kids getting struck by cars going around buses. Here are some tips to help you avoid such tragedies:

  • You must always stop when a school bus’s yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop sign arm is extended. This is a law in every state.
  • Never pass a school bus after it has just dropped off kids.
  • When stopping behind a school bus, stay at least 10 feet away so children can safely enter and exit the bus.
  • Be alert and extra cautious as it is not uncommon for kids to run out onto the street around a bus stop.

Other drivers:

Though you can’t control the driving behaviors of others, you can do your part in driving defensively to avoid a crash.  Be patient and don’t assume their movements. Chances are they are just as harried as you are. You won’t make things better if you’re impatient and drive aggressively. On the contrary, that behavior will make it more dangerous for everyone. Here are some tips to help you drive more defensively around other drivers:

  • Leave a safe following distance in case the car in front of you has to stop suddenly.
  • Don’t pass a stopped car
  • Avoid trying to squeeze by cars to make a right-hand turn.
  • Don’t honk out of frustration. Other drivers are likely to be just as stressed out as you are and honking may make matters worse.

Also keep in mind that there may be teen drivers taking their siblings to school. These new drivers may not be familiar with driving in traffic or with kids around. They may be extra cautious, so be sure to give them the benefit of the doubt.

For some driving techniques or classes, visit before you head out on the road.