Teachers, parents and kids everywhere are gearing up to go back to school with supply shopping, earlier bedtime schedules and getting back into old routines.
Something else that needs to change at this time of year is how you drive. It's time to watch for little ones crossing the road and to employ safe driving techniques near buses and through school zones.
Here are some tips to help you drive safely during this back-to-school season.
Stop behind buses
It's tempting to zoom around a stopped bus that has been slowing down traffic, but if its stop sign is displayed or its red lights are flashing, there may be children in the area who need to cross the street in front of the bus. Never pass a bus in either direction when it is loading or unloading children.
When possible, take turns with other parents to drive several neighborhood children to school. You'll be helping relieve congestion at the school and in the neighborhood.
Don't drop kids off across the street from the school
It's important to minimize the number of road crossings your kids have to do on the way to school. More children are injured by vehicles in school zones than in any other location, according to the National Center for Safe Routes to School. Parents should drop kids off as close to the school as possible and obey all rules regarding drop off and bus zones.
Watch for school zone speed limit signs
Those speed limits will be going back into effect this time of year, so pay attention to flashing yellow lights and slow down, whether you see children around or not.
Come to a complete stop at stop signs
No more rolling through stop signs, even when you're sure the coast is clear. You may not notice small children who need to cross the road, and if they're unaccompanied by an adult, they may not know the best methods for crossing roads safely.
Be aware of local school schedules
Familiarizing yourself with what time local schools begin and end will help you avoid driving through school zones at busy times of day. It's also a good idea to know about school events like concerts and football games that could cause congestion at unexpected times.
Stay out of crosswalks
When dropping off a child or stopping for a traffic light, don't pull into a marked crosswalk. You and the vehicles next to you may not be able to see when a child is about to step out into the road.
Train your teen driver
Teenagers driving in and around school zones need their parents to train them in proper back-to-school driving techniques. Teen Driver Source says the most common causes of teenage driving accidents are lack of scanning for possible road hazards, going too fast for driving conditions and being distracted by something in the car.
You can help train your teen to drive safely by teaching them to look for children who may suddenly run out in the road and discouraging driving distractions. Teach them about the hazards of using a cellphone while driving, as well as the importance of avoiding other distractions like eating, applying makeup, changing the music or talking to a passenger.