With the end of summer approaching and our children and grandchildren going back to school, it is more important than ever to think about driving safely around school zones. According to a recent study by Safe Kids Worldwide, approximately 100 children in the United States are killed every year while walking to or from school, and 25,000 others sustain injuries as a result of school zone crashes. Help keep pedestrians, especially kids, safe in school zones by following these tips:
- Adjust your route to avoid school zones.
- Slow down! Speed limits in school zones tend to be five to 10 miles per hour below the normal posted speed.
- Stop for buses. Passing a stopped school bus is against the law.
- Watch for pedestrians, especially on sidewalks and around driveways, intersections and residential neighborhoods.
- If you must drive through a school zone, give yourself extra time. Being in a hurry near pedestrians is never safe. Especially in highly populated areas, pedestrians may assume that because they can see your vehicle, you can see them and will stop. Avoid distractions like using a cellphone or looking for something in your car while driving in a zone with pedestrians.
Being aware of pedestrian safety is important not just in school zones, but anywhere people and cars are close together. Remember these tips next time you drive:
- Always look for pedestrians crossing your intended route.
- Do not pass a vehicle that has stopped to allow pedestrians to cross the road.
- Beware of your pedestrian blind spot. When making turns, it is easy to miss seeing a pedestrian hidden by the corner posts between your windshield and side windows. Use scanning and turn your head to see around the areas framing your windshield.
- In cities, be sure to watch for pedestrians, especially children, darting out mid-block from between parked vehicles.
- Look for pedestrian crossing signals and signs that require vehicles to stop mid-block for pedestrian crosswalks.
- At a stoplight, check to make sure no pedestrians are crossing in your path before you proceed.
- Be especially alert for pedestrians and children when backing out of driveways or parking spaces.
For more tips and strategies on how to remain a safe driver, consider taking the AARP Smart Driver course — AARP Driver Safety's flagship offering and the nation's first and largest refresher course designed specifically for older drivers. The AARP Smart Driver course is available in a classroom and online, in both English and Spanish. In some states, you may even be eligible for a multi-year insurance discount upon completion of the course.
For more information, go to aarp.org/drive or call 877-846-3299.