Remember the excitement of your first day of school? Now, as a new driver, you've got a new set of responsibilities. School zones might look simple, but they require extra attention and care. With the hustle and bustle of parents dropping off their kids, buses pulling out, and children crossing the streets, it's super important to know exactly what to do. This quick guide will help you navigate school zones safely and with confidence so you can get to school safely.
Obey School Zone Speed Limits
In most U.S. states, school zone speed limits range between 15 mph and 25 mph. These limits usually apply between seven and nine in the morning and two and four in the afternoon. Fines can be hefty if you're caught speeding in a school zone, so always adhere to the posted limits.
Watch Out for Signs and Lights
School zones are often marked with warning signs, flashing lights, and speed bumps. Watch out for these signs and reduce your speed accordingly. If you're unaware of the approaching school zone, you may end up braking suddenly, creating a dangerous situation for yourself and the people around you.
Stop for a Bus That's Stopping
When you see a bus slowing down or stopping, prepare to stop as well. School bus safety is critical, and failing to follow the rules can get you in hot water. When the yellow lights start to flash, this is your signal to slow down, and when the lights turn red, you must stop.
No matter what state you’re in, it’s illegal to pass a school bus when the red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended. Avoid any type of distracted driving so you can make sure you see the school bus in plenty of time to safely stop. Also, don’t forget to be patient. You cannot legally start driving again until the stop arm is pulled back in and the bus begins to move.
Don't forget to keep a watchful eye on children waiting on the curb for their bus in the mornings and those being dropped off in the afternoon. Remember that kids often wait for the bus several feet from where it stops and may also be crossing the street to get on and off.
Other Safety Tips for Back-to-School Driving
In addition to the tips above, there are a few more things you can do to help ensure everyone’s safety when driving during the before- and after-school hours:
Adjust your route: If possible, avoid school zones altogether by taking a different route.
Be aware of pedestrian blind spots: When making turns, scan the area and turn your head so you can see around corners and windshield frames.
Look for pedestrian crossing signals: Be mindful of signs and pedestrian signals that require vehicles to stop and allow pedestrians to cross. Remember that some crosswalks are in the middle of the street, rather than at the corner.
Be alert when backing out: Always check for pedestrians and children when backing out of driveways or parking spaces.
Pay attention to crossing guards and traffic officers: They are there to ensure children's safety and control the flow of traffic. Crossing guards and traffic officers take precedence in school zones, so always follow their directions, even if they contradict traffic signals or signs.
Time to Hit the Road Safely!
As a new driver, you're not just responsible for yourself, but also for the safety of others, especially around school zones. With children's lives at stake, there's no room for carelessness. So, take these tips to heart, slow down, and keep your eyes open. Whether you're looking out for flashing lights, stopping for buses, or giving a friendly wave to a crossing guard, you've got the power to make the roads safer.
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