It’s that time of year when the thrill of summer fades and children don their new clothes, shoes, and backpacks filled with pencils and notebooks to head back to school. A fresh new school year can be an exciting time but it can also be a very dangerous time. Anxious children unfamiliar with their surroundings, harried parents, and impatient drivers mixed with early mornings can easily cause distractions and end in tragedy. Here are some helpful tips for keeping children safe this back-to-school season:
Watch for Walkers
Children are not as familiar with the rules of the road and don’t always look both ways before crossing the street. It’s the job of motorists to be aware of the unpredictability of children. Most often tragedy strikes because children are hit by buses or by drivers illegally passing a stopped bus. Here’s what you can do to help keep young walkers safe:
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
- Use extreme caution to avoid hitting pedestrians, no matter who has the right of way.
- Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare pedestrians.
- Do not block crosswalks. Pedestrians may be forced to maneuver around you which could place them in the path of moving traffic.
- Always stop for school crossing guards.
- Take extra care to look for children when approaching school zones, parks, and residential areas.
- Obey all posted speed limit signs.
Beware of Buses
If you’re following behind a school bus, be sure to allow for a greater following distance than behind the average car. It is unlawful in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped for loading and unloading of children. Some other precautions to be aware of:
- Never pass a bus, from either direction, if you’re on an undivided road if the bus is stopped to load or unload children.
- If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, drivers are required to stop.
- Stay back 10 feet or more. This area is considered a danger zone for children; stop far enough back to allow them enough space to safely exit and enter the bus.
- Be cautious. Children often behave erratically and may ignore hazards and take risks.
Many parents participate in carpool programs that may shuttle several children around at once. Here’s how to make sure the carpool crew gets to and from school safely:
- Buckle up! Set an example and buckle your seat belt. Children and teens are more likely to buckle their seatbelts when adult drivers also wear seat belts. Create a rule that the car doesn’t move until you hear the clicking of all seat belt latches.
- Observe Car Seat Standards. Ensure all passengers are using proper seat restraints at all times. Infants from birth to twenty pounds should be in infant only, rear-facing seats with harness straps at or below shoulder level; toddlers between twenty and forty pounds should be placed in forward-facing seats with harness straps at or above shoulders; children between four and eight years old weighing more than forty pounds should be placed in belt-positioning booster seat with lap belts fitting low and tight across the lap with the shoulder belt snugly across the chest and shoulder. Children under the age of 12 should always ride in the back seat with seat belts fastened.
- Obey school zones. Take extra caution when driving in school zones. Watch for children darting out between cars and in crosswalks. Also, beware of other vehicles with children stopping suddenly to let children in or out.
- Avoid your phone. Refrain from texting or talking on your phone at any time, especially during drop off and pick up times at school. Avoid getting distracted by focusing on the road and your surroundings.
Safe and Sound
Whether you’re the carpool commander, drop off diva, or the careful commuter, make sure your vehicle is in top condition. With short trips to school and frequent idling, while sitting in traffic, your engine is getting a workout! It’s imperative that your vehicle is properly maintained with scheduled maintenance. Maintenance should include oil changes, fluid flushes, filter changes, and even minor maintenance such as ensuring your tires are properly inflated and that windshield wipers are prepared for rainy school days.
Sun Devil Auto can make sure that your vehicle is safe and sound for transporting your most precious cargo. Each vehicle that arrives at our valley-wide service centers for an oil change service receives a multi-point inspection ensuring your vehicle is prepared for the school year, all by our ASE Certified Technicians. You’ll be impressed that Sun Devil Auto made the grade with our A+ Rating with the Better Business Bureau. Plus, our friendly Service Consultants can guide you in planning scheduled maintenance, as recommended by your vehicle manufacturer, into your busy schedule. Conveniently schedule your appointment with us, today!