As schools are starting to be back in session, it’s an important time to review driving safely in these areas. During the school year, there are three major points of safety that every driver should remember. The first is what the laws of crosswalks are, the second is paying attention to school zones, and the third is how to drive when a school bus is present.
1. Crosswalk Laws
Crosswalks aren’t exclusive to schools, but there are more of them around a school. It is common for students to walk to school and have crossing guards to help them.
If you are approaching an intersection, the crossing guard is the traffic authority. They have been trained to help students cross safely and manage the flow of traffic at the same time. Drive slowly and pay attention to their movements. If they have a stop sign held up, you are required to stop. Do not proceed through the intersection until they had indicated it is safe by putting their sign down or waving you through.
Not all crosswalks have a crossing guard. If you see students waiting to cross or stepping into the road, you must stop. Let them cross and leave enough room that other drivers can see them too. Do not drive through the crosswalk until they have safely passed out of all the lanes going your direction.
Be extra vigilant at intersections where you are turning and have a walking signal. If you aren’t always watching and paying attention to pedestrians, you could cause a serious injury.
2. Paying Attention to School Zones
When school zone signs have flashing lights, slow down. This is an important law because it helps prevent serious problems. High numbers of students are going to school or heading home when these lights are flashing.
Young students are a bigger risk because they can step out on the road while not paying attention or chasing after something and not looking for cars. Driving at a reduced speed helps you to stop the car quickly.
Another thing to remember about school zones is that there are going to be a lot of extra cars and buses in the area transporting students. When there is heavy traffic, visibility can be lowered. Cars are also likely to pull in front of you, requiring a quick stop. Even when the sign indicates the end of a school zone, continue to be on high alert.
3. How to Drive When a School Bus is Present
The first rule of driving when a school bus is present is to watch for stops. If a school bus stops with flashing lights and an extended stop sign, you are required to stop.
Do not ever try to go around a school bus in this situation. First, because it’s illegal and second because there are students running to or getting off the bus and heading in all directions. Since drivers are required to stop, these students are not looking for oncoming traffic. You won’t be able to see everything a bus driver can so be sure to be patient.