Summer is over and school is back in session. The start of a new school year brings more traffic to be aware of. Thankfully, we are here to provide some back-to-school safe driving tips.
If your route takes you into a school zone, you are likely to see busier morning and afternoon commutes as parents flood the streets for pick-up and drop-off. Not only are the amount of cars on the road increasing, but so is the amount of pedestrians on sidewalks. The people usually in crosswalks are students walking, biking, riding a scooter, and skateboarding to school.
As drivers, it is our responsibility to practice safe driving in order to protect students and their caregivers as they head back-to-school. At Sweet Lawyers, we have represented hundreds of victims of accidents and have first-hand knowledge of some of the unknown dangers to look out for when on the road. If you drive on city streets, here are the top five back-to-school safe driving tips you’ll want to know – to not only help you avoid a ticket, but to ensure the safety of everyone.
1. Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
As adults, we have learned to be conscious of our surroundings. Unfortunately, children going back-to-school don’t always have this ability. This is why it is so important that drivers are aware of what is around them. Everyone should be driving defensively and with caution.
Never use a cellphone while driving, and avoid all distractions when traveling in a school zone. Accidents can happen in an instant – taking your eyes or mind off of the road for even a second can have devastating consequences.
Take special care when passing cars on the side of the road, as children may unexpectedly dart out in an attempt to cross the street quickly. While many schools have brightly colored crosswalks and crossing guards to assist with getting students to their destination safely, not everyone will adhere to these rules. When on the road, it is our responsibility to be aware of our surroundings to protect the safety of others.
2. Lookout For College Students
Going back to school isn’t just for kids, as many college students are heading back to campus as well. If you live in a college or university town, pay attention to the amount of people on the streets. Students will be on bicycles, skateboards, electric scooters and other unexpected modes of transportation as they rush to make it to class on time. Drive slowly near campus and be cautious when turning into crosswalks and exiting driveways.
Be wary of impaired students. Drivers traveling in a college town should be watchful of pedestrians that are not paying attention. If your town hosts collegiate sports, try and find an alternate route to avoid the area and any potential driving hazards. With drinking and driving on the rise, a driver must always stay defensive behind the wheel. Remember that people are most often inebriated on nights and weekends.
3. Watch For Buses
When driving, you must always stop for school buses that are unloading or loading children. Most buses will have a bright red stop sign attached to their side that will be engaged when students are present. With the excitement of going back to school, it is not unusual for students to run to and from the bus.
These students create a unique obstacle for drivers, as they are often completely hidden before entering into the road. If you encounter a bus with flashing lights and its stop sign visible, do not proceed until given the signal that it is safe to do so.
Failing to observe traffic laws regarding school buses can have major legal consequences. In order to maintain the safety of our roadways, AAA has created a guide that explains school bus law in every state.
4. Obey All Signage
While most school zone laws can be located online or in your driver’s handbook, they aren’t always easy to remember. This is why the roadways surrounding schools will have traffic signs that make the laws clear. Always obey the signage you see and ensure you are going the posted speed limit.
Traffic signs will also inform you of when these unique traffic laws are in effect. With summer being over and back-to -school season here, you’ll want to note when specific rules need to be followed. In addition, what the penalties are for a failure to comply.
In addition to traffic signs, always watch for school crossing guards and follow their hand signals and additional signs. Most states recognize their legal authority in school zones.
5. Be Aware Of State Law
While it may seem like school zone laws are universal, some states have specific guidelines in place. Here are some states with unique laws:
California School Zone Law: According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, the speed limit is 25 mph (unless otherwise posted) when driving within 500 to 1000 feet of a school while children are present. However, some school zones have speed limits as low as 15 mph. Always look for posted signs to indicate the speed limit in the area.
Arizona School Zone Law: Per the Arizona Department of Transportation‘s no passing in school zones law, it is illegal for a driver to pass or otherwise overtake another vehicle in a marker school zone. If a driver violates this law while school is in session, fines are doubled.
Nevada School Zone Law: The Nevada Department of Transportation mandates that drivers are not permitted to pass each other or make a U-Turn in an active school zone.
Washington School Zone Law: The Washington Department of Licensing dictates that drivers must stop or yield right of way for pedestrians or bicyclists within a crosswalk that is marked with school or playground speed zone signs. Failure to do so will result in twice the scheduled penalty.
These are just a sampling of the varied state and county laws drivers must follow when in a school zone. If you are unsure of the laws in your area, consult an attorney for clarification.
Safe Driving Tips: What To Do If You Are In A School Zone Accident
These safe driving tips can only be so helpful. In the case of unexpected accidents, there is only so much in your control. If you are the victim of an accident that took place within a school zone, you have rights.
The personal injury attorneys at Sweet Lawyers are dedicated to ensuring that you get the justice you deserve and that the driver is held accountable for their actions. If someone’s negligence harms you, contact Sweet Lawyers today to find out if you are entitled to compensation.