If you’re nervous about driving through school zones during the back-to-school season, don’t be! While it does take a little more attention than the average stretch of road, school zones are mostly a simple thing to deal with. These six tips should address the most common concerns.
Know How They Work
School zone signs usually show exactly when they’re active and/or have flashing lights to make it very clear that they are. If not, just know that school zones are active in the hours just before, during, and just after classes. They are made so that drivers slow down and be careful around the times where more children will be near the road or crossing it. You should follow the reduced speed limit marked on the sign, but if it’s not currently school hours, play it safe and drive a bit slower anyway. Never speed through a school zone, during school hours or otherwise.
Stay Alert and Watch Ahead
If you’re not aware of a school zone coming up, you’ll be forced to slow down quickly. Try to remember the locations of any school zones you’ll be passing through ahead of time so you can gradually lower your speed before you enter one of them. Knowing that one’s coming also helps you prepare mentally. It’s good to put away any distractions like phones and wake yourself up a bit more if it’s early in the morning or you’re feeling groggy.
It Might Be Crowded
School zones tend to have a number of crosswalks where large groups of kids cross the street, so don’t be surprised if you spend a lot of time waiting. That doesn’t count parents stopping to turn into parking lots to drop off their kids and school buses making stops. You’ll see the most activity from 7 to 9 a.m. or 2 to 4 p.m., so don’t expect to pass through quickly. There are often pedestrian walkways that aren’t officially crosswalks and thus wouldn’t be watched by a crossing guard, so always yield to pedestrians and be ready to stop.
Dealing With Buses
It might be unnerving to drive behind a school bus or see one stopped in front of you, but there’s nothing complicated about these scenarios. Always yield right of way to a school bus, and if it’s stopped with its side stop sign up, you must remain stopped behind it at a fair distance. Never try to pass a stopped school bus, because you could be passing directly in the path of students crossing the road up front.
Use extra caution when driving through a school zone. Tickets for infractions that happen in school zones can be very expensive. If you really need to get somewhere fast, take a route that doesn’t pass through a school zone. Even if it’s a litle out-of-the-way, you’ll be able to drive at a normal speed and probably won’t be stopped by slow traffic or pedestrians.
By following these simple tips, drivers should have no problems navigating school zones safely. It all comes down to common sense.