Tips for safe driving around school zones

December 12, 2013 12:00 AM

Young children may have been back in school for several months, but the upcoming weeks will bring extended breaks, excited kids and inclement weather. When all of those factors come together, it can be a dangerous situation. Driving in and around school zones always requires drivers to pay strict attention to what is going on around them, as this is a key part of personal safety. 

"There's a lot of activity that happens between arrival time and dismissal time that can be distracting, and that's the piece that can make it risky for young pedestrians," Nancy Pullen-Seufert, associate director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School, told 

Here are a few tips for staying safe near schools at all times of the year: 

Speed limits matter
Most drivers are familiar with the fact that speed limits drop around school zones. It is important to remember that you'll need to focus on these changes and be aware of the zones in which they apply. Certain areas may have speed limits that change based on the time of day, so make sure you are looking out for these signals. 

Watch for buses
Another area you'll need to watch is bus lights. There are special rules for stopping and following buses on the roads, so it is essential that you brush up on the basic facts and regulations that are involved. For example, drivers need to remember that they cannot pass buses in either direction when they are stopping to pick up a child, and motorists also need to be aware of kids crossing the street after getting off a bus. 

Obey all signs 
The road signs around schools typically extend beyond "stop" or "yield." You also have to focus on warnings from school buses and fellow drivers, so it is in your best interest to have a clear view of the surroundings. You should also take care to have any necessary brake repair completed, as you never know when you'll suddenly spot a warning sign or have a pedestrian enter your view. Similarly, you'll have to keep an eye out for crosswalks, bus stops and other 

Get a tune up
One basic way to prepare for driving safely is to get an auto tune up. In addition to brakes, a professional can check on things like windshield wipers and fluid levels, which will ensure that you have a clear view of what's on the road ahead. 

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