It's Back to School Safety Month, so here are some safety tips. Here at Hillside Auto Repair, we believe every month should be safety month, because it’s always important to be safe.
More school-age pedestrians are killed during the hour before and after school than any other time of day, according to NHTSA. In fact, SafeRoutesInfo.org reports that more children are hit by cars near school than at any other location.
In the fall, approximately 50 million students will attend public elementary and secondary schools. And upcoming high school junior and senior students have begun driving themselves to high school for the first time, too. You can try your best, but there’s no way you can prepare students for everything they'll find on the road ahead during the upcoming school year.
Here is a collection of must-know safety tips back to school season. They're helpful for everybody, whether they're walking, young drivers, or even parents during this important season.
Schools often have very specific drop-off procedures for the school year. Make sure you know them for the safety of all kids.
More children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location, according to the National Safe Routes to School program. The following rules should apply to all school zones:
- Don’t double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles.
- Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school.
- Carpooling isn't just convenient, it also works to reduce the number of vehicles at the school.
- Follow direction of crossing guards
2) Keep an Eye Out for Young Pedestrians
Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way.
Here are some precautions drivers can take to help keep children safe:
- 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
- Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign
- Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas
- 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.
3) Sharing the Road with School Buses
It is illegal in Califiornia to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
Although drivers are required by law to stop for a school bus when it's loading or unloading passengers, they often don't, so be sure to remind your bus-riding children to always be alert for vehicles moving around the bus as they load and unload.
Also, if you’re driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing.
Keep these other School Bus Safety Tips in mind:
- Never pass a bus from behind — or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road — if it is stopped to load or unload children.
- If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop.
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus.
- Be alert. Children are often unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks.
According to the National Safety Council, school buses keep more than 17 million cars away from school buildings every day.
While school buses are the safest way for students to travel, but children also need to do their part to stay alert and aware of their surroundings to prevent injury. NSC urges parents to teach their children the following safety rules for getting on and off the bus, and for exercising good behavior while riding.
Getting on the Bus:
- When waiting for the bus, stay away from traffic and avoid roughhousing or other behavior that can lead to carelessness
- Do not stray onto the street, alleys or private property
- Line up away from the street or road as the bus approaches
- Wait until the bus has stopped and the door opens before approaching the bus
- Use the handrail when boarding
Behavior on the Bus:
- If seat belts are available on the bus, buckle up. While riding a bus to school is safer than riding in the family vehicle or walking, the National Safety Council supports the incorporation of lap and shoulder belts in school buses – and across multiple modes of transportation – to ensure the safest ride for children. Since 2002, passenger lap and shoulder belts have been made available on school buses; California requires them.
- Don't speak loudly or make loud noises that could distract the driver
- Stay in your seat
- Don't put your head, arms or hands out the window
- Keep aisles clear of books and bags
- Get your belongings together before reaching your stop
- Wait for the bus to stop completely before getting up from your seat
Getting Off the Bus:
- Use the handrail when exiting
- If you have to cross in front of the bus, first walk at least 10 feet ahead until you can see the driver
- Make sure the driver can see you
- Wait for a signal from the driver before crossing
- When the driver signals, look left, right, then left again. Walk across the road and keep an eye out for sudden traffic changes
- If your vision is blocked, move to an area where you can see other drivers and they can see you
- Do not cross the center line of the road until the driver signals it is safe
- Stay away from the rear wheels of the bus at all times
More school-age pedestrians have been killed during the hour before and after school than any other time of day, according to NHTSA. And, although drivers are required by law to stop for a school bus when it's loading or unloading passengers, they often don't. Children should not rely on them to do so, so teach your kids to be especially aware of cars that may be passing the bus when loading and unloading.
5) Keep an Eye Out for Bicyclists
On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be hard to see.
Children riding bikes create special problems for drivers because usually they are not able to properly determine traffic conditions. According to the National Safety Council, The most common cause of collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist.
- When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between your vehicle and the cyclist.
- When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass.
- If you’re turning right and a bicyclist is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first. Always use your turn signals.
- Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling. Children especially have a tendency to do this.
- Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods.
- Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars.
- Check side mirrors before opening your car door.
Help your teen plan for the unexpected.
- Encourage your teens to make a playlist before they hit the road.
Distracted driving isn’t limited to texting behind the wheel. Channel surfing the radio can be a big distraction, as well. Remind your teens to make a playlist in advance and keep the volume at a moderate level so they can always hear what’s going on around them.
- Program your GPS before you drive away.
Navigation systems can really help young drivers find their way in new neighborhoods, but it's important to set the destination before hitting the road. Make sure your teen driver knows how to use the navigation system -- whether it's a feature on the car or a mobile app on their phone -- so they won't be distracted while driving. Getting lost can be irritating, so be sure to pull over to check the navigation so the annoyance won't become a safety issue.
- Pack a roadside emergency kit:
Should your teen end up stuck, make sure they’re prepared: A flash light, portable cell phone charger, granola bars, bottled water, jumper cables, first aid kit, and blanket are all good things to have on hand should something unexpected occur.
Driving is a privilege, not a right.
- Always wear a seat belt.
Clicking your seat belt takes a matter of seconds, and it’s your best defense in an accident — not to mention it’s the law. Yet, around 53% of teen drivers killed in car accidents are not wearing one; sadly, compared with other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use, according to CDC.gov.
- Talk to your teen about the anti-lock braking system (ABS).
There are times that all drivers need to brake quickly. For new drivers, the sensation created in the brake pedal when the ABS kicks in can come as a bit of a surprise. Make sure that your teen driver is familiar with ABS and not startled by it. In sudden braking situations, you always want to apply the maximum amount of brake as soon as possible.
- Understand braking distance.
It’s important for teens to understand that braking distance grows exponentially with the car’s speed. For example, doubling your speed more than doubles your stopping distance. Always brake earlier than you think you need to.
- Learn what to do in a skid.
The first thing you teach your teen driver is to look where she wants the car to go and take her foot off the accelerator. This will help the tires regain traction and get her going in the right direction.
8) Prevent Distracted Driving
Anything that takes your thoughts away from driving is dangerous.
Cell phone use while driving is only one form of distracted driving. Often our passengers, music, food, or beverages can distract us like our cell phones can.
- Be sure to lead by example. We encourage families to make a pact not to text and drive. Discussing the many, many reasons why texting and driving is dangerous will make the pact more meaningful.
- Limit the number of passengers your teen can have with them in a vehicle. In most states, teens are only allowed to have one other teenage passenger in the car at a given time. If you don’t live in one of these states, and it seems like your teen is becoming a taxi service for friends, enforce this law in your own house, too.
Be sure drivers understand the importance to safety of proper tire care.
Tires are the only part of a vehicle making direct contact with the road, so it’s critical to make sure they are road-ready.
- Inflate: To check tire inflation, use a tire pressure gauge to make sure your tires have the proper inflation pressure. A lot of people mistakenly think that the correct inflation pressure is on the tire’s sidewall, but that’s not correct. What’s listed on the sidewall is the maximum inflation pressure for the tire, and not necessarily what’s appropriate for the load carrying capacity of a particular vehicle. To find the proper tire inflation pressure for your vehicle, refer to the placard that’s located in the driver’s side doorjamb or your vehicle owner’s manual. Tire pressure should be checked at least once each month, as tires can lose one psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure under normal operation. Also, for every 10 degree drop in temperature, tires lose one psi. Proper tire inflation pressure is critical for safety, maximum performance and fuel efficiency.
- Rotate: Have your tires rotated and balanced every 5,000 to 7,000 miles (check your vehicle owner’s manual for specific vehicle manufacturer recommendations).
- Evaluate: Continually evaluate your tire’s tread depth to make sure you have enough traction to grip the road. The penny test is a simple way to do this. Just place a penny upside down in the tire’s tread. If any part of Lincoln’s head is covered by the tread, you should be good to go. If not, it may be time for a new set of tires.
10) Prepare for a Flat Tire!
Even if you have a roadside assistance program, be sure to have drivers, including your teen driver, practice changing a tire, so she will be prepared in case of emergency.
A recent survey found that 73 % of drivers on the road today have experienced a flat tire, and the majority of Americans (68 percent) indicated that changing a tire on the side of a busy road is the biggest safety hazard of a flat tire. Make sure your student isn’t one of them!
Did you know you actually can plan for the unexpected with a run-flat tire? Run-flat tires are designed to resist the effects of deflation when punctured, and allow the vehicle to continue to be driven at reduced speeds (usually under 55 mph), and for limited distances (from 10 to 50 miles, depending on the type of tire). (The Bridgestone DriveGuard run-flat tire line is engineered to go up to 50 miles to safety after a puncture.)