Back to School Safety Tips for Drivers and Children 

pedestrians crossing the street

As we navigate the roads in this back-to-school season, it’s essential to be vigilant and teach children pedestrian safety tips. Each day across the US, nearly 500,000 buses carry more than 25 million students to and from school. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), from 2011 to 2020, there were 1,009 fatal school transportation-related accidents. Read on to learn vital school safety tips.


Avoid Distracted Driving

When it comes to back-to-school safety, one of the most important tips for drivers is to stay alert. This means drivers should refrain from driving distracted. For example, avoid using your cell phone, eating in the car, or engaging in any other activities that divert your attention from the road.

In 2021, 3,522 people lost their lives in accidents that involved distracted driving. By keeping your focus solely on the road and your surroundings, you can give yourself the time and space you need to react quickly to unexpected situations on the road.


Be Alert and Cautious in School Zones

school zone sign

School zones demand careful attention from drivers, especially during peak hours. Reduced speed limits and pedestrian crossing signs are put in place to help protect children and young pedestrians as they make their way to and from school. Ensure you slow down, obey the speed limit, and be prepared to slow down or stop if needed.

Remember, children might not always follow traffic rules correctly, so it’s your responsibility as a driver to exercise extra caution, anticipate their actions, and be prepared to stop at any given moment.


Share the Road with School Buses

Sharing the road with school buses requires alertness, patience, and vigilance. School buses make frequent stops to pick up or unload children, and children often emerge from or disappear behind them unexpectedly. It’s crucial to maintain a safe following distance, giving yourself ample time to stop when the bus puts on its yellow flashing lights. This signal indicates that the school bus is preparing to stop. Bus signs not only help safeguard the children but also help prevent rear-end collisions.


Remain Stopped for School Buses

bus stop sign

Understanding and obeying the rules around stopping for school buses is essential. According to California law, when a school bus stops, extends its stop sign and puts on its red flashing lights, all traffic in both directions must come to a complete stop.

This helps ensure the safety of children who are boarding or exiting the bus. Failing to adhere to this rule not only poses a danger to children but also carries legal consequences. Drivers who don’t follow California laws regarding school bus stops could face up to $1,000 in fines, points on their driving record, and license suspension. Remain stopped until the bus drives away.


Look for Crossing Guards

Crossing guards play a vital role in guiding children safely across busy intersections. As a driver, it’s essential to look for crossing guards and follow their instructions. A crossing guard will usually wear a bright, reflective vest and carry a stop sign. These individuals are trained to manage traffic flow and ensure children can cross the street safely.


Watch for Pedestrians, Children, and Cyclists

When driving in areas with high foot traffic, it’s crucial to be extra cautious. Always be on the lookout for pedestrians, especially children, who might not always make the most predictable choices when crossing the road.

Additionally, with the increasing popularity of cycling and e-biking, watch out for young cyclists who might be sharing the road and give them ample space.


Don’t Block Crosswalks

Blocking crosswalks can create hazardous situations for pedestrians, particularly children who might need to walk around vehicles obstructing their path. Whether you’re waiting at a red light or in heavy traffic, always ensure that you stop before the crosswalk.


Don’t Double-Park

Double-parking near schools or at a school drop-off not only disrupts the flow of traffic but also obscures visibility for both drivers and pedestrians. Instead, find a legal parking spot to drop off or pick up your child.

It’s dangerous for other children and drivers to have to navigate around parked cars at a drop-off point. Avoid the temptation to double-park, even if you’re in a hurry.


Be Cautious of New Drivers on the Road

The back-to-school season often sees an influx of new, young drivers on the road. Student drivers and inexperienced drivers might not yet have a full grasp of traffic rules and road etiquette. As an experienced driver, exercise patience and caution when sharing the road with others. Follow traffic signs and signals and maintain a safe following distance to help prevent accidents.


Walking to School Safely

Walking to school is a healthy and environmentally friendly mode of transportation for children, but it’s crucial to teach them about pedestrian safety. Encourage them to use designated crosswalks, look both ways before crossing, and make eye contact with drivers before stepping onto the road. Remind kids to put away distractions like cell phones and headphones so they can focus on their surroundings.


Staying Safe on Bicycles

child on a bicycle

For children who ride bicycles to school, safety is paramount. Make sure they wear helmets that fit properly and understand the rules of the road. Bicyclists should ride in the same direction as traffic, and stay in the bike lane whenever possible.

Equip their bikes with reflectors and ensure they know proper hand signals for turning. Encourage them to stick to bike lanes or designated routes whenever possible, and remind them to dismount and walk their bikes across busy intersections.


Riding the Bus to School

Taking the bus to school is a common option for many children. Teach them to wait for the bus at a safe distance from the road and to stand in a single file while boarding. Remind them to remain seated and quiet during the ride, as a rowdy bus can distract the bus driver. If they need to cross the road after exiting the bus, ensure they know to do so in front of the bus, where the driver can see them.


Picking Up and Dropping Off Students

When you are leaving to pick up or drop off your child, be alert as you back out of or pull into a driveway. Exercise caution as you drive through a neighborhood, school zone, or bus stop. If you’re a parent dropping off or picking up your child, follow the school’s guidelines for designated drop-off and pick-up areas. Use these zones exclusively for their intended purposes and avoid blocking traffic or crosswalks. If your child needs assistance getting in or out of the car, make sure you pull over safely and entirely before helping them.


We Are Award-Winning Personal Injury Attorneys

Whether on foot, bicycle, or bus, instilling proper safety habits before the school year begins can significantly reduce the risk of accidents.

At Harbor Accident Lawyers, our award-winning personal injury attorneys advocate for accident victims. If you or a loved one is injured in an auto accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to our law firm.

We maintain a 99% success rate and have recovered millions of dollars for our clients. Call us or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation today.