What are Safety Tips for Driving around Schools?August 30, 2021
Heading back to school can be an exciting time for both parents and students. But schools can bring vehicle congestion that may create hazardous situations, especially for smaller children darting among oversized family vehicles.
As a parent who may drop your child off at school, you can play a role in keeping your child safe by practicing safe driving while on school property. Paying attention to what is happening around you and going slow so you can avoid a car wreck are paramount to keeping everyone safe at school. What follows are some best tips for safe driving habits around schools, bus stops, and children riding their bikes.
Keep Slow Speeds
Whether driving in the school parking lot or through a school zone on a street, keeping a slow speed can help keep everyone safe. Many school zones on regular streets have posted speed limits of no more than 15 mph. Violating this can often result in increased speeding ticket fines simply by being in a school zone.
It is also good practice to move slowly on school property. Children may bolt out of nowhere, and if a car is going too fast, it is hard to slow down and avoid a collision. School parking lots are also not designed for easy and fluid traffic flow like city streets. It is likely that two cars will have near-collisions, and they will need to be traveling slowly to avoid an accident.
Prepare for Congestion
In rush hour, many drivers get agitated and frustrated with the number of vehicles on the road and how they are seemingly parked, not going anywhere. The same can easily happen in a school parking lot.
Much like rush hour, where everyone is trying to get to work at the same time, every parent is trying to drop their child off at school at the same time. This will create congestion on and around school property, and parents must be ready to deal with that traffic jam. For some, that may mean leaving earlier to be one of the first to drop their children off and be on their way without much delay.
Watch for Crosswalks
In Maryland, pedestrians are required to cross streets only at a crosswalk. Although that does not always happen, paying attention around crosswalks will ensure that pedestrians and drivers alike stay safe.
It is also Maryland law that vehicles stop for any person in a crosswalk. Drivers do not need to sit forever and wait for people who are still approaching a crosswalk, but drivers do need to be aware that if a pedestrian is within a crosswalk, they have the right of way, not the driver. This is true even if the crosswalk is in the middle of a street and not at a defined intersection.
Make sure that crosswalks remain open. When a driver approaches an intersection or stopped traffic, they should ensure that they are not stopped on a crosswalk. Doing so can make it difficult for pedestrians to safely cross the street.
Watch for Buses
Traveling to and from school drop-off locations, parents will encounter many buses, more as they approach the school. Buses frequently stop to pick up students before school and drop them off after, which can cause congestion to build up behind them because all cars are required to stop.
It is important that parents not get frustrated by these delays and understand that laws requiring cars to stop are in the best interest of each child. When a bus has its stop sign out and red lights flashing, drivers must pay close attention to what is happening around them because the bus is about to pick up or drop off students. If drivers are distracted and not paying attention, they risk causing an accident that could have catastrophic consequences.
Do not pass a school bus when it is stopped to pick up or drop off children. Not only is this illegal, but also it can be deadly. Children are often dropped off on the opposite side of the street, and the bus waits for them to cross safely. If a car tries to pass a stopped bus, the driver may not see the children crossing the street, resulting in tragic accidents.
Obey Traffic Officials
Crosswalks, school zones, and school parking lots may be monitored by officials to help keep traffic flowing and ensure student safety. Many crosswalks have crossing guards staffing them, even at an intersection with a stoplight. This helps ensure student safety when crossing the street.
Police officers or school resource officers may also be present in school parking lots. These officers are there to help keep students safe. These officers may also stand guard at nearby intersections with stop signs. To help keep traffic flowing, police officers may wave people through stop signs instead of having each car stop, which can slow traffic. If a driver encounters a police officer at a stop sign or stoplight, always follow the officer’s instructions, even if it means running a stop sign.
Watch Your Speed in School Parking Lots
Never speed in a school parking lot. Always go slow. Never double park in a school parking lot, either. Doing so can easily block visibility for other drivers and for students who are trying to enter or exit the school.
Always let students out in designated areas and pick them up in the same spot. Letting children out of the car before the designated drop-off location can create havoc for other drivers as they try to navigate children running rapidly around vehicles.
Pass Bicyclists Carefully
In many areas, bike lanes provide specific areas for bicyclists to ride. In other areas, bikes share lanes with cars. When passing a student riding their bike, make sure to leave enough room. Especially for younger children who may not always have full control of their bike or have complete balance, they can sway abruptly. If a bicycle collides with a car, the collision can have deadly consequences.
Drivers also need to watch out for rapid movements from students riding their bikes. Regardless of who has the right of way or if the bicyclist failed to signal their intentions, take extreme care and caution when passing a person on a bike.
When in a school parking lot, drivers also need to be sure that they check their mirrors before exiting their car. Opening a car door only to find a bicyclist slam into it can result in serious injuries to the rider. Changing lanes and exiting a school parking lot will also require a driver’s intense focus, checking mirrors to ensure that no children riding their bikes are in the car’s way.
Although safety of children and parents is of the utmost importance, drivers can also avoid costly fines and penalties by driving safely. In school zones where speed limits are greatly reduced, speeding fines are often greatly increased and drivers may receive additional points on their license. This could also cause insurance rates to increase.
Not yielding to pedestrians in a crosswalk, especially near a school, can have the same results. Police officers are often stationed near schools, especially at the beginning of the school year. Paying attention to the rules of the road will not only keep drivers from getting hit with heavy fines but also keep students safe, and that is what is paramount.
Baltimore Car Wreck Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Help Keep You and Your Children Safe
Back to school season can be fun and exciting, especially when children get to go back and see their friends who they may not have seen for a long time. But keeping your youngsters safe around school property is important, and you can play a part by exhibiting good safety practices when driving. Even when you do everything right, however, accidents can still happen. The Baltimore car wreck lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton dedicate themselves to helping people injured in car accidents. We will explain your legal options and how you may be able to collect maximum compensation. Call us at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online to schedule a free case review today.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.