As the nation’s schools go back in session, it is important for drivers to be aware of their surroundings, especially during peak morning and afternoon hours. Often there is more traffic congestion during these times, as well as school zones where speed limits drop considerably during certain times each day.

According to AAA, over 55 million children across the United States went back to school this fall. Thirteen percent of those children typically walk or bike to classes, so it is extremely important to be aware of pedestrian traffic, especially as the days become shorter and it becomes dark during the morning commute.

Slow Down

School zones have reduced speed limits for good reason. AAA states that, “A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 mph is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just 10 mph faster.”

Come to a Complete Stop

Over one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. This could prove dangerous for pedestrians and other vehicles. Always come to a complete stop at a stop sign, looking for children on sidewalks and crosswalks before continuing.

Eliminate Distractions

Current research shows that a driver who takes their eyes off the road for even a second or two doubles their chances of crashing. It only takes a second for a child to run into the road in front of an oncoming car. Try and reduce risks of distraction by refraining from using a phone, eating, or any other potentially distracting activity.

Reverse Responsibly

Check and double-check blind spots before moving the vehicle. Look for children on the sidewalk, in the driveway, and around the vehicle before slowly backing up.

Watch for Bicycles

Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist. According to a personal injury lawyer in Miami, two common accidents among bicyclists both young and old include being rear-ended by a car following too closely and being clotheslined by a vehicle door opening suddenly in the biker’s path.

Allow for Extra Time

Drivers who commute during prime before and after school hours should plan accordingly. Allow for extra time at the beginning of the school year in the event of being caught behind a bus picking up or dropping off children.

Look for Flashing Lights

Laws vary by state, but some states require vehicles on both sides of the street to stop when a bus is flashing red, meaning they are picking up or dropping off children. Drivers should avoid passing a bus during this time.

Talk with Teen Drivers

AAA states that car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occurs during the after-school hours of 3-7pm.  Talk with teen drivers about responsible driving practices, how to avoid distractions, and things to pay attention to in their surroundings.