The laid-back days of summer are almost over. Over the next few weeks, most schools in the U.S. will be resuming classes for the fall. It’s a time of exciting new beginnings for teachers and students, but it also is a time of greater headaches for drivers of all types. Carpools and buses will soon be flooding the streets again, adding new times of high traffic. Seasoned drivers are likely fully aware of the dangers of changing weather such as earlier darkness, slippery leaves, ice, and snow. However, unless you currently have children attending school, a few school year changes to road safety may not be as front-of-mind. Here are a few safety challenges to watch out for as students head back to classrooms.
Ensure distraction-free driving
Backpack-laden children will soon be out in force walking to school buildings from homes and parked cars, or riding bikes, scooters, or skateboards. Unfortunately, children aren’t always the most safety conscious. That’s why it is up to drivers to be vigilant, avoiding distractions like phones, eating and drinking, or even attempting to use GPS while in motion. Pay extra attention when backing up as well, as you never know when a child might pop up unexpectedly behind you.
Beware of glare
Although most associate sunnier days with summer, it is actually in fall when the glare is at its worst, due to the sun’s position in the sky being lower during fall and winter months. The lower position of the sun hits the eyes of drivers at a more direct angle, sometimes completely obscuring a driver’s view of the road, other vehicles, and pedestrians. Unfortunately, peak glare time for the A.M. often corresponds to the times when schoolchildren might be walking or driving home from school. In order to increase visibility even when the glare gets severe, keep your windshield clean, remove any obstructions from your dashboard, and be sure to keep polarized sunglasses in your vehicle at all times.
Watch for school zones & bus stops
Although it is typically better to stick to highways and interstates to avoid back-to-school traffic, there will be times when taking backroads is unavoidable. Therefore, it is important to be aware of any school zones and bus stops you may encounter, especially when it may be less clear where schools are located when driving on backroads. When possible, avoid school zones altogether. If you can’t avoid them, give yourself extra time as the speed limit is at least 10 MPH slower.
Just being aware of these safety challenges can go a long way to improve the well-being of schoolchildren and drivers alike.