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Back to school: Safe driving around children

While children begin a new school year the roads fill up with children walking and riding bicycles, not to mention the adolescent drivers. Groups of unpredictable and hard-to-see youngsters can be found in groups not just around schools but in residential areas, parks, and popular after-school hangouts. Though child pedestrian fatalities have been on the decline, thousands of child pedestrians continue to be injured and die in car accidents every year (NHTSA). There are several simple things you can do to help keep the streets safe for these youngsters.

  • Slow down when children are present. This is not limited to posted school zones. Speed is what limits you from being able to react when a child may suddenly come into the street. Remember that nothing you are in a rush to do is more important than not killing a child.
  • Avoid children altogether. If you can adjust your route to avoid areas with many children such as school zones, you drastically reduce not just your likelihood of causing an accident, but also relieve traffic congestion in those areas and make it safer for pedestrians and motorists there.
  • Pay closer attention. Be aware not just of the road but of sidewalks, streets corners, and any areas children might be hidden from your vision like behind and between parked cars.
  • Listen. Children are often noisy, and their noise may alert you to their presence before you can see them. Turn the radio and other electronic noises off, and roll down your windows on both sides. You may hear children yelling and playing, or the panicked yells of somebody trying to alert you of a child you do not see.
  • Obey all traffic signals. This does not mean just stop lights but flashing crosswalks, temporary traffic signs and crossing guards.
  • Stop for buses. There are laws in all 50 US states requiring that motorists stop near buses loading or unloading children. Flashing yellow lights on the bus indicate that it is about to stop to let children on or off. Flashing red lights and an extended stop sign indicate that bus is stopped children are getting on or off the bus.
  • Do not block crosswalks. Stop short of any crosswalks so that you can see the entire width of it. This way you will see even the shortest child crossing and are less likely to hit a crossing pedestrian.
  • Acknowledge that even adult pedestrians have the right-of-way and kindly yield. Driving with kindness and attention is the best way to keep you driving safely.

Thank you very much for reading. Check out the video above, which is a PSA about school zone safety in the form of a rap song by the Victoria, Texas Police Department. Leave any comments or questions you may have below. It addresses a serious topic in a fun way. You can subscribe above for article alerts, and follow me on Twitter @Examiner1stAid. Stay safe and be well.