Back to School: Essential Safety Tips for Drivers

by Erie Insurance on September 10, 2021

School is officially in session. And while kids are brushing up on their math and language arts skills, there are still lessons for the rest of us to learn, too – like: Is it ever OK to go around a stopped school bus? And how do I navigate the student drop-off and pickup lane?

This time of year, it’s important for drivers to slow down and keep an eye out for kids around schools and their neighborhoods. Whether you’re dropping off kiddos yourself or just driving through school zones on your commute, keep these driving tips in mind as kids head back to the classroom.

For All Drivers:

  • Drive cautiously through school zones. Most often, schools have flashing lights with a posted speed limit sign for school zones during the morning drop off and afternoon dismissal. However, pay close attention during off hours if the lights come on for sports or band practices or other school events. Speeding fines are typically increased in school zones.
  • Watch for crossing guards. They’re usually easy to spot with high-visibility gear or handheld stop signs. Crossing guards and patrol officers help kids cross the street safely, so yield to their instructions.
  • Leave space for buses. The 10 feet surrounding buses is where kids are most likely to get hurt. If you are behind the bus, leave more following distance than you would for a car. This gives ample space for the bus to make complete stops. If you are approaching the bus, allow at least 10 feet for the kids to safely cross the street in front of you.
  • Do not pass a stopped bus. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a bus that is stopped to load or unload children. If you see flashing yellow or red lights and the bus extend its arm, traffic must stop.
  • Stay alert. It’s always important to avoid distractions in the car, such as cell phones or other electronic devices. This is especially true in pedestrian-heavy zones, like schools, parks and residential areas.
  • Be prepared for traffic. Drop off and pickup times are peak commute times. Leave early and watch for other cars, buses, pedestrians and bikers.

For School Drop-Off and Pickup Lanes

  • Don’t double park. All parents are eager to get in and out, but double parking blocks visibility for other children and vehicles.
  • Follow the flow. If you’re in a rush, it might be tempting to drop your kids off across the street – but crossing traffic can be dangerous. Use the school’s designated drop-off (and pickup) lanes to avoid unnecessary street crossings.
  • Carpool with other families. Consider sharing driving duty with other families in your neighborhood. This will reduce the number of vehicles (and traffic problems) at the school. Plus, you’ll earn a gold star for being environmentally friendly!

Finally: Remember to talk to you kids about transportation safety and walking or riding around school. Check to make sure they understand the basics of traveling to and from school, like looking both ways before they cross the street. Their teachers can help you explain safety tips in an age-appropriate way.

At Erie Insurance, we value your family’s safety. We are always thinking about ways to protect you, your loved ones and your vehicle — both this school year and every year. Talk to your local ERIE agent today to find the right auto insurance coverage for you and your family.