Children in Harrisonburg, Virginia will be heading back to school in a few weeks, which means drivers will need to be alert and prepared to make adjustments. The following tips will keep everyone safe.
Dropping Off Kids
Many schools have a specific protocol for dropping off kids, and parents should be familiar with it before the school year begins. Children are more likely to be struck by a car near a school than anywhere else. School zone safety rules:
- Do not let children out of the car across the street from the school.
- Do not double park a vehicle. This is dangerous to other drivers as well as children.
- Use carpooling to reduce the number of vehicles in front of the school.
Watching for Pedestrians
The National Safety Council reports that most of the children who lose their lives in bus accidents are actually pedestrians. They are either struck by the bus or another vehicle that passes the bus illegally. Virginia drivers should take the following precautions:
- Follow the speed limit of 25 mph in school zones.
- Always stop at crosswalks with flashing lights and for school crossing officers.
- Do not block crosswalks at red lights as this forces pedestrians into traffic.
- Do not sound the horn at pedestrians or attempt to pass a car that has stopped.
- Be alert for children near schools, parks, playgrounds and on residential streets.
Respecting School Buses
When driving behind a school bus, drivers should leave extra room to allow for stopping distance. It is always illegal to pass a stopped school bus from either direction. Other rules to follow:
- Stop when there are red or yellow lights flashing and the stop sign is extended by the bus driver.
- Stop far enough away to allow children a safety zone around the bus.
- Be alert to children's unpredictable behavior and inattention to risk.
Watching Out for Bicyclists
While bicyclists have to obey the same Virginia traffic laws as car drivers, they are often more difficult to see, especially when children are involved. Accidents between cars and bicycles most often occur when the driver is making a left turn. To avoid problems with bicyclists, drivers should:
- Always leave at least three feet of space when passing a bicycle.
- Use turn signals and allow a bicycle to go through an intersection first whether turning right or left.
- Watch children on bicycles closely as they often make sudden turns in front of vehicles.
- Be alert on residential streets and around schools where bicycles can suddenly appear from a driveway or between parked cars.
- Check the sideview mirror before exiting the vehicle.
Common sense, vigilance and following the law will keep children and drivers safe as the new school year begins in Harrisonburg, Virginia.