8 Tips to Keep in Mind When Driving in a School Zone

school bus, school

 

With schools back in session, it’s a good time to refresh how to drive safely in school zones. Traffic and speeding violations in school zones are typically severely penalized, and for good reason – unsafe driving in a school zone can have tragic consequences. Thankfully, school zone accidents can be drastically reduced with just a few extra precautions. Here are some easy tips to keep in mind when driving in a school zone.

Be on the lookout for them

You probably know where your local schools are, but if you’re traveling, be extra mindful about any schools you see. It’s hard to abide by school zone traffic laws if you don’t know you’re in one!

Slow down

School zones typically have lower speeds than the surrounding areas. The speed is usually well-marked with school zone speed limit signs. While you absolutely should not exceed the posted speed, it’s important to know that you can drive slower than the posted maximum. If you see students out at recess or school just got out and there’s a rush of pedestrians, it’s a good idea to slow down even more as an extra precaution.

Be attentive

We all hope that drivers are paying attention anytime they’re behind the wheel, but in a school zone, this is especially important. Students, crossing guards, and busy parents can all get distracted. Being an attentive driver helps to keep everyone safe.

Be ready for traffic at drop off and pick up

As much as we wish we could avoid this, there’s no way around it: if you’re driving through a school zone before school starts or right when it gets out, there’s going to be traffic. And probably a lot of it. If you’re on the roads around 8 A.M. or 4 P.M. on a school day, give yourself extra time to get where you’re going.

Be patient

Whether it’s navigating the school traffic, getting stuck behind a bus, or driving at a reduced speed, be ready to practice patience when driving in a school zone. When you’re just trying to get through the school zone as quickly as possible, it’s tempting to speed through it or zip around the line of parents’ cars and busses, but driving in a hurry is never a good idea. Be patient with yourself – and others on the road – when driving through a school zone.

Look out for pedestrians

Teachers, students, parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, grandparents… there are a lot of people out and about on school grounds! If you’re in a school zone right after the final bell rings, be extra cautious of the pedestrians. Driving slowly and leaving plenty of room at the crosswalks are great ways to look out for pedestrians.

Beware of buses

School buses are generally pretty efficient at pick up and drop off. They’re on a cramped schedule and need to get where they’re going. But still, school busses are large vehicles that weave in and out of tight spaces. Give them extra room when you’re on the road, and keep in mind that they do need to be able to get in and out of the loading zone.

Be considerate

Things run much more smoothly (and safely!) when drivers think about others, which is why being a considerate driver is so important. In a school zone, this could mean leaving room at the stop sign so you don’t block the crosswalk, keeping clear of driveways, letting parents into the pickup line, and not blocking the busses from getting on their way.