At this point, school is in session for all but three school districts set to launch classes post Labor Day.
Despite the fact that the fundamental advice is the same each year, it is worth reiterating the importance of safe and smart road habits at the start and end of each school day.
Tens of thousands of children are put at risk by the slightest distraction at least twice a day, once heading to school and once returning. And as an editorial earlier this week pointed out, few realize that every time they are behind the wheel they control a very efficient killing machine.
Of course, drive safely all the time. And don’t text or use your phone while driving, that’s just stupid dangerous.
The simplest rule is to think of every child out their as your own. But here are more detailed tips, from the National Safety Council.
• Make sure you know the specified drop-off and pick-up procedures and locations at your child’s school, and us them according to the rules. More children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location, according to the National Safe Routes to School program. But you didn’t need a study to guess that.
• Don’t double park. This is good advice all the time, but particularly important when students are en route to or from school. It blocks visibility for all concerned, drivers and pedestrians alike, but more so for youngsters who can’t hope to see over the hood of a subcompact, much less the roof of an SUV.
• Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school. This may be tempting as a time-saver, but it puts the children at high risk for that very-short trip across the road, thanks precisely to the fact that everyone else is arriving with children, but also because most of the drivers aren’t looking for youngsters on the street when there is a designated drop-off/pick-up zone.
• Carpool as much as possible to reduce the number of vehicles at the school, and thus reduce the number of chances vehicles can collide with students.
• Yield to pedestrians, every time. In a school zone, be alert for flashing lights, patrol officers and crossing guards. Nothing in your life is so urgent a child’s life should be at risk so you can save a few seconds.
• At intersections, stop before your front bumper enters the crosswalk. Why would you want to force students to step out into the intersection to get around your hood? If there is one of those wide “stop bar” stripes before the crosswalk, stop at it. They are put there for a reason. Oh, and come to a full stop and look carefully before turning right on red. It’s not an option, it’s the law.
• Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians. Never, ever, ever consider passing a school bus stopped with lights flashing.
• The area 10 feet around a school bus in every direction is the most dangerous space for a child. Stay back far enough to let them enter and exit the bus without risk.
• Lastly, children are unpredictable. Don’t assume you know what they will do.