By Kenny Hackett
The end of summer is upon us. With the return of school comes something dark and evil, Metro Atlanta school traffic! Traffic is never particularly kind in metro Atlanta, but the return of school can make it a nightmare. Not only is the additional traffic annoying, but it can be dangerous for our children if safety is not observed more carefully. With this in mind, we would like to share some tips from the National Safety Council to help everyone be as safe as possible.
When Dropping Off the Children
Make sure to go over your local schools drop off procedures before taking your child to school! Being prepared not only will increase efficiency and reduce traffic backups but will ensure the process is as safe as possible for the students! School zones have the highest number of incidents involving children and motor vehicles.
- Don’t double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles
- Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school
- Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school
Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians
Most children who lose their lives in school bus related incidents are walking and between the age of 4 to 7 years old according to the NSC. There is a danger of them being hit by the bus or a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus. These are some things that can make it safer for the kids!
- Don’t block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic
- In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection
- Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign
- Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas
- Don’t honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians
- Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way
Sharing the Road with School Buses
If you are driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
- Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you are on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children
- If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to enter and exit the bus.
- Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks
Sharing the Road with Bicyclists
On most roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles, but bikes can be hard to see. Children riding bikes create special problems for drivers because usually, they are not able to properly determine traffic conditions. The most common cause of the collision is a driver turning left in front of a bicyclist.
- When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist
- When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass
- If you’re turning right and a bicyclist is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, and always use your turn signals
- Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this
- Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods
- Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars
- Check side mirrors before opening your door
I hope these tips help us all keep the kids safe as they return to school. I tried to find some advice for avoiding traffic in Atlanta, but google just laughed at me. Feel free to share any tips you have in the comments.