It’s that time of year again. After a summer of quiet, carefree commuting, it’s time to once again be alert in the morning and afternoon as kids head back to another year of school. Whether you are just passing through a school zone on your way to work or are doing a drop-off or pick-up, school children are relying on us to keep an eye out for them so they can make it to school safely. We offer these back-to-school safety tips for parents and commuters.
Mornings Are a Stressful Time
Let’s face it. We’re all rushed and stressed out in the morning. Just as you’re backing out of the driveway 10 minutes later than you should be, a teenaged neighbor is jumping on his bike, trying to get to school before the tardy bell. Another neighbor is buckling her kindergartner into the back seat for an early drop-off at before-school care. None of these people are paying attention to what is going on around them, and this scenario can lead to a disaster on any given morning.
The transition between summer vacation and the start of the school year is a great time to be reminded to take your time and be alert in the morning.
Dropping Off at School
The teachers and staff at your child’s school have years of experience managing the morning madhouse. That's why it's so important to follow their rules for dropping students off—no matter how late you are for work. Don't try to cheat the system by double-parking or letting your child off across the street. Other drivers aren’t looking out for kids crossing the street and your child won't know how to enter the school grounds safely.
It’s an obvious statement, but allowing a few extra minutes in the morning will reduce your stress and protect your child—and others—from danger.
Look Out for Little Kids Walking
According to the National Safety Council, most of the children who are killed near schools are between the ages of 4 and 7 and are walking.
You can help them walk to and from school safely by being aware of their presence and anticipating what they might do. Even though they've probably been taught to stop and look before crossing a street, many kids forget to do this, especially if distracted by their friends.
It's up to passing drivers to make eye contact with kids approaching an intersection and confirm they're going to stop before driving through—even if you have the right-of-way. Never drive around a car stopped in the road as he could be allowing children to cross in front of his car. Slow down around schools, especially in the dark, early-morning hours or at twilight.
Give School Buses the Space They Need
Even if you don’t live near a school, you'll probably come across a school bus picking up or dropping off passengers. Federal law requires that you stop when the lights are flashing on a school bus, even if you don’t see kids nearby. The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children, so you should stop at least 10 feet behind a bus when it's picking up or dropping off.
Remember There Are New Drivers Out There
One of the most dangerous places to drive is probably the parking lot of a high school—a large area full of inexperienced, perhaps sleepy, drivers all in a hurry. Similarly, the roads leading up to a high school are going to be full of young drivers doing unpredictable, dangerous things, who are also possibly distracted by friends or electronic devices. Avoid these areas if you can, but if you can’t, reduce your speed, allow a big following distance, and pack your patience.
We Should All Do Our Part
It's important that all drivers on Kansas City’s roads are aware that kids are returning to school soon. Keep your eyes open and allow yourself plenty of time to get to and from work. It's up to us to keep our students safe and our children from being injured.