Florida schools are just starting up for the fall. Although going back to school is exciting for kids (and a relief for many parents), this time of year also comes with increased risks for certain types of accidents, particularly in school zones. As students and drivers adjust to safety rules in school zones, there is often an increase in crashes.
School zones are often chaotic, so it may be easier to become involved in an accident than you think. Below we cover driving reminders to stay safe. More children are hit by cars near schools than in any other location. This means that as a responsible driver, you’ll need to share the road with pedestrians, buses, other drivers, and children on bicycles in school zones.
Here are some tips.
Picking Up and Dropping Off
If you are picking up or dropping off in school zones, make sure to do the following:
- If possible, carpool to decrease the number of cars in the school zone, and to decrease your workload.
- Do not pick up or drop off children across the street from the school, forcing them to cross busy roadways.
- Do not double park in school zones or pickup/drop off areas.
Young pedestrians are at risk of getting hit by a car or a bus in school zones. If you are driving in a school zone, you can decrease the risk of pedestrian accidents by doing the following:
- Do not block crosswalks when waiting to make a turn, causing children to walk around your car. This could cause them to walk into oncoming traffic.
- At crosswalks or intersections, stop when flashers are blinking to allow pedestrians to cross.
- Keep an eye out for children in and around school zones – they’re often harder to see, and they may not get out of the road like an adult pedestrian.
- If a vehicle is stopped for pedestrians, do not pass it, even if there are no pedestrians in the path of the passing lane.
Many school-age children are injured or even killed by pedestrian accidents involving buses. Due to the nature of the job, bus drivers are typically very well-trained to navigate child pedestrians. However, when other motorists drive irresponsibly, this often leads to serious or even fatal accidents.
To share the road with buses:
- If a bus is stopped to pick up or drop off children, never pass it from behind or from either direction on an undivided road, even if you think that all of the children have exited the roadway. You will be unable to see any children in front of or behind the bus.
- Come to a complete stop if the bus lights are flashing and/or the stop arm is extended.
- Stay at least 10 feet away from school buses at all times if possible.
Many children ride their bicycles to and from school. Bicycles can be very difficult for motorists to see. Further, children riding bicycles may be unable to judge traffic conditions, so they are more likely to get in a bicycle accident.
To share the road with child bicyclists:
- If passing a bicycle going the same direction, pass slowly and leave at least three feet between your car and the bike.
- If you are turning left and a bicycle is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the bicycle to pass before turning.
- If you are turning right and bicycle is approaching you from behind on the right, let the rider pass first, and be sure to use your turn signal.
- Keep an eye out for bicycles coming from driveways or from behind parked cars.
To make sure that you, your child, and your child’s classmates stay safe during back to school season, stay alert at all times while driving through school zones, and make sure to take safety precautions – taking a few extra seconds could be the difference between life and death.
About the Author:Lawlor, White & Murphey in 1998. Since 1995, Mr. Lawlor’s trial advocacy and litigation skills, as well as his wide-ranging legal expertise, have provided plaintiffs and their families with a distinct advantage when seeking financial compensation and justice for injuries caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Lawlor is an EAGLE member of the Florida Bar Association and an active member of the American Association for Justice, the Broward County Justice Association, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and several professional associations.