It’s the end of summer, and one thing is sure — kids across the country are going back to school. Over the next few weeks, more and more kids (55-million-plus according to AAA) will be picking up their backpacks and heading out the door to grow and learn.
Every one of those kids needs to GET to school and back home again. Whether by car, bus, bicycle, or their own two feet, there are thousands of kids on the road every morning and afternoon once summer ends.
Not sure yet what this has to do with fleet? School time compounds traffic issues and adds a lot more for drivers to pay attention to versus the breezy summer months. Add rapidly changing weather to the list of concerns, and you have a recipe for possible disaster.
According to research by the National Safety Council, most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 years old, and they’re walking. They are hit by the bus or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus.
Driving Safety Tips
It’s a good time to put together a safety reminder for drivers. A few helpful tips you can include are:
- Be alert for kids running into the streets, especially during school bus pick-up or drop-off time.
- Keep an eye out for bicycles and give plenty of space. Remember, a lot of school-age kids are just learning and may ride erratically.
- Provide additional travel time — both to and from work and for routes during the day.
- Slow down. Don’t forget school speed limits! When school is in session, school zones have reduced speed limits, typically 20 mph. Some are only while flashing, while others state during school hours. Be aware.
- Share the road! Know your state laws regarding passing (or not passing) school buses. When a school bus has its red lights flashing and stop signal arm extended, it violates traffic laws to pass. Some states only require drivers to stop if the signal arm is extended (check your specific state laws to be sure). Not only is it an expensive fine (Work Truck research found the average fine is around $400), but it’s critical to keeping kids safe.
- Remind your drivers to stay distraction-free! Though important year-round, it’s critically important to put down the phone and always keep your eyes on the road.
- When exiting your vehicle, check those side mirrors for bicycles and pedestrians.
- Back-up safely. With more kids on the roads it’s especially important to reverse with caution. Don’t just rely on your back up cameras but look everywhere before slowly backing up.
Remember, the 2020-2021 school year was impacted by school closures and some kids are returning to school for the first time in over a year. They are more likely to be distracted and less-practiced in safety than ever before.
Crashes and incidents are avoidable with the right precautions in place. Take the time to talk safety with your drivers, especially when major changes to traffic patterns occur, including kids going back to school.
Do you have any additional tips to share with our readers to help keep our kids and fleet drivers safe? Share them in the comments or e-mail me and let’s chat!
Editor's Note: Originally Written in 2018, Additional Tips Added, Updated August 2021