Safety should be a driver’s number one concern on the road. Drivers should be aware of other vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, and especially children while on the road. Children can be unpredictable to drivers by not looking both ways when crossing the street, darting between parked cars, and ignorant when it comes to traffic laws. Too often tragedy occurs because a driver is not paying close attention, or a child makes an unpredictable mistake. With the school year ending, drivers should be particularly aware that more children are likely to be out in neighborhoods, parks, and playgrounds, near shopping malls, and just about everywhere. As a driver, you are responsible for driving safely in their presence. Your two-ton vehicle is no match for any size child on the streets, a parking lot, or even your own driveway. Follow our tips on sharing the road with kids this summer.
When sharing the road with pedestrians, as a driver you have a responsibility to yield to pedestrians. People on foot, especially young children, do not always follow the rules of the road and can often be in places where they shouldn’t. Still, you must be watchful for all kinds of pedestrians.
- Watch Your Speed – Obey posted speed limits, especially in areas where pedestrian traffic is heavy, such as school zones and neighborhood streets where children may walk to and from school.
- Look Closely – Bad weather and darkness make seeing pedestrians, and for them to see you, even more difficult than usual. In addition to driving more cautiously, use headlights and communicate your intentions by using turn signals when necessary.
- Watch Your Back – When backing out of your driveway or parking spaces, utilize your backup camera, if applicable, as well as your mirrors. Trust your own eyes and turn and look behind you, as well. Pedestrians do not always expect a vehicle to move and can easily enter your path without your knowledge.
- Yield – Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Pedestrians always have the right-of-way, meaning you must be prepared to stop for them.
- Give them Space – When stopping for pedestrians in the crosswalk, allow for enough space between your vehicle and the crosswalk so that walkers may cross safely. This also allows other drivers to see why your vehicle has stopped.
- No Passing – Do not pass vehicles that are stopped at a crosswalk. You may not see that pedestrians are crossing until it is too late.
I Want to Ride My Bicycle
Bicyclists have a bit more responsibility on the road than pedestrians, but drivers should still be vigilant of their presence on the road. Bicycles on the road are also considered vehicles and must travel with the flow of traffic. Bicycle riders can often be difficult to notice in heavy traffic conditions, making them more vulnerable on the road. When sharing the road with bicycles, always use your mirrors and check your vehicle’s blind spots prior to making a right-hand turn, parking, or even pulling away from the curb. Don’t just rely solely on your vehicle’s review mirror and instead use your own eyes and turn to look for bicyclists as well as kids on skateboards and travelers on scooters.
- Drive with Caution – Reduce speed when approaching a person on a bicycle while on the road. Don’t follow too closely, especially during poor weather conditions. Watch for hazardous road conditions that may affect bicyclists, giving more space if needed. Children on bikes can be even more unpredictable than the average bicyclist as they may not understand traffic laws. Slowdown in their presence and watch carefully.
- Be Respectful – Yield to bicyclists by giving them the right of way, when necessary. Sometimes the area in the bike lane isn’t wide enough or bike lanes may be absent from the roadways. When passing riders on bikes, give at least four feet of space. Avoid beeping your horn in their presence.
School Bus Safety
It won’t be long until school is back in session and bright yellow school buses will once again hit the streets. Practicing safety around school buses is important. By following the laws set by the State of Arizona, you’re protecting children from a potentially tragic incident as well as avoiding a hefty ticket for yourself. When approaching a school bus, take note of the lights flashing. Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus will be coming to a stop soon, so be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights indicate the bus has passengers loading or unloading and no vehicles should pass. In fact, when approaching a bus with their stop sign arm out with red flashing lights, you must come to a complete stop, regardless of the direction you’re traveling. However, you are not required to stop for school buses when traveling in the opposite direction on divided roadways such as those with barriers or medians.
Safe driving begins with you. A parent’s worst nightmare is the thought of their child being struck by a vehicle. Don’t make this fear become a reality by always following posted signs and speed limits, especially in neighborhoods where children are at play. Slowing down and yielding to pedestrians, bicyclists, and school buses will not likely affect your estimated time of arrival to your destination. Show others how you can share the road with those on foot, bike, skateboard, and scooters by always being watchful and careful of their presence on the road ensuring we’ll all arrive at our destinations safely.