Safety first on roads at schools

2016-09-27 06:00

Having run the “school” drop off in the last few days it made me more conscious of how badly many parents drive. With that in mind I am sharing some tips:

If you’re dropping off

Schools often have very specific drop-off procedures. Make sure you know them for the safety of all kids. More children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location, according to the US National Safe Routes to School program. The following apply to all school drop off zones:

. 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, if possible, to reduce the number of vehicles at the school.

Sharing the road with young pedestrians

According to research by the Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are four to seven years old, and they’re walking. They are hit by the bus, or by a motorist passing a stopped bus.

. 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 indicators 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 hoot or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way.

. Never pass a vehicle that has 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’re 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 should the bus need to stop quickly.

Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you’re on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children.

. The area three to four meters around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus.

. Be alert. Children are often 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 collision is a driver turning right in front of a bicyclist.

. When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 1.5 meters between your vehicle and the cyclist.

. When turning right and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass.

. If you’re turning left and a bicyclist is approaching from behind on the left, let the rider go through the intersection first. Always use your indicators.

. Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or indicating. Children especially have a tendency to do this.

. Be extra vigilant in school areas and residential neighbourhoods.

. Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars.

. Check side mirrors before opening your door.

While most fleet drivers won’t necessarily experience these conditions, the reality is that most drivers could benefit from some of these reminders.

Remember – you don’t want to be the one who runs over a child.

V Eugene Herbert is group managing director of an advanced driver training company.

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