As it always happens, summer has passed too quickly and school is back in session. Thus, 56 million children across the United States will be traveling to and from school each day. The daily school routine is hectic for parents which means the roads will be even busier with drivers that could be distracted with other things other than paying attention to the road. Regardless, they are hauling the most precious cargo of all. In addition, millions of children walk and ride their bikes to school each day. With all of this commotion, it is more important than ever truck that drivers are more careful than ever.
It is true that most drivers do not drive in residential areas but it is also true that most schools and school buses are not located within neighborhoods. That’s why it’s a good idea to remember some basic rules of the road while traveling in and around school zones and school buses. These rules are highlighted below.
It is important to note that there were 264 school-age children killed in school-transportation-related crashes between 2008 and 2017. Approximately 200 of these children were killed walking or biking, waiting for the bus or riding in another vehicle.
By following some basic guidelines, you can do your part to keep kids safe.
1. WATCH YOUR SPEED.
It may sound simple, but slowing down in school areas can be a big step in the right direction for drivers of semi-trucks. According to the Department of Transportation, a passenger vehicle weighing 4,000 pounds, traveling under ideal conditions at a speed of 65 miles per hour would take 316 feet to stop (nearly the length of a football field). A fully-loaded tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 pounds traveling under ideal conditions at a speed of 65 miles per hour, however, will take 525 feet to stop (almost the length of two football fields). Be on the lookout for school zones, which often have much lower speed limits. This is especially the case before and after school. Most school zones are marked with a sign that contains flashing lights during specific hours.
2. BE ALERT FOR BUSES.
It can be frustrating for drivers to be stuck behind a school bus that makes frequent stops. It’s essential, though, that you don’t pass a bus as it’s picking up children to take them to school or dropping them off after school. It is illegal in every state in this country to pass a bus stopped with its stop arm extended and lights flashing. Try to stay farther behind a bus than you would another vehicle. This gives you more time to stop when necessary. Many experts point out that the ten feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children.
3. STAY ALERT NEAR SCHOOLS.
Before and after school, a lot of children walk or ride their bike. Not all of them utilize the appropriate crosswalks, making it dangerous for drivers in the area. Be especially alert near schools, and keep your eyes on the road at all times. Follow the signs of school crossing guards, even if you’re in a hurry. Also, if you happen to be driving in a neighborhood around the time children are dismissed from school, watch for kids playing in the street or darting back and forth between yards.
4. PLAN YOUR ROUTE ACCORDINGLY.
If you know you’re going to be driving near a school during the typical arrival or dismissal times, give yourself extra time to reach your destination. Use major highways and interstates rather than residential routes, even in towns and cities with colleges and/or universities.
Here are some additional back to school safety tips, courtesy of the National Safety Council:
• Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic.
• In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection.
• Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way.
• Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
• Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way.
*For more safety tips feel free to call Continental Express’ Safety Department at 800-497-2100.
* If you are interested in driving opportunities with Continental Express, call to speak with a Recruiter at 800-497-2100.