- School Tips -
Special to the Courier
The end of summer vacation comes too quickly for most in Texas. It can also be an exciting time of year for families as they prepare for the back to school season. With summer vacations wrapping up and traffic increasing as people go back to work and back to school, August means different driving patterns and rules of the road.
According to a 2008 report by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHSTA), autumn is the most dangerous time of year for pedestrians, with 29 percent of pedestrian-related fatalities.
Here are five tips to help keep you - and your kids - safer as they head back to school. Whether you are a new or long-term driver, use these tips to set the example for others on the road.
• Respect the big yellow bus. Imagine being in a large car with 40 students. Could be pretty stressful. Do your part and make the bus drivers' lives easier. Yield when they are attempting to merge, and maintain a significant distance behind them, as they often make unexpected stops. Make sure children know to walk in front of - never in back of - buses.
• Get in the zone. Speed limits in Texas school zones typically range between 15 and 25 miles per hour. Abide by the limits and look out for pedestrians, keeping your foot on the brake. It goes without saying that school zones are home to newly licensed teenagers. Speed limits aren't just for during school hours either - consider after-school marching band practice, late night football games, and other events.
• Walk better. Drivers aren't the only ones who need to obey the rules of the road. A major driving pet peeve is pedestrians who jaywalk, cross at a red light or text while walking. More than an annoyance, this is a danger, especially in school zones. According to the Safe Routes to Schools organization, 33 percent of youth pedestrian crashes are attributed to kids darting out into the road. Remember to be a good pedestrian - cross at corners and marked crosswalks and in clear view, never between parked cars. Remind your kids to do the same.
• A different kind of pool safety is outlined in the pamphlet "Six Driving Tips for Back-to-School Carpoolers," which emphasizes the importance of seatbelts for all students. If you're part of a carpool, always remind your children and passengers that seatbelts are a must - no matter who they are driving with. Not only are seatbelts the law, they save thousands of lives a year.
• The national report "Distracted Drivers in School Zones" offers sobering statistics about the effects of texting and talking on your cell phone, so turn off or put down your cell phone while in the car, especially near schools.
While it's an exciting time, getting back to school can be stressful, too. Tolerance and defensive driving will get you everywhere you need to go safely.