*Riinngg* Hear that? That’s the sound of the school bell, which means buses will be flowing all around the Phoenix Valley area soon enough. This time of year also brings upon the “danger season” for school-age children; about 33 kids each year will be killed by motorists who fail to obey the law.
Don’t become part of the problem. Keep those Arizona roads safe by following these back-to-school driving tips.
5) Don’t Pass STOP
Impatient drivers—you know who you are—are the number one reason for fatalities and injuries of young children throughout the school season. Always follow this sage advice: “If the bus’s red lights are a-blinkin’ and the stop sign is a-swingin’, sit there and be an obedient driver.” (We never said it was a catchy saying.)
Not only will your patience prevent a potential catastrophe, it is also the law. Per Arizona statute 28-857, drivers caught overtaking a stopped school bus are subject to several penalties, including the following:
- A minimum penalty of $250 for a first-time violation.
- A minimum penalty of $750 for a second-time violation.
- The suspension of the driver’s license for 6 months to 1 year.
- A minimum penalty of $1000 for all additional violations.
Wouldn’t you rather have that money in your pocket than save yourself 60 measly seconds of traveling time?
4) Get To Know Your School’s Rules
It’s always a great idea to freshen up on your local school’s safety plans, processes, and rules each year.
First up: get to know the pick-up and drop-off procedure. Each school is different and most will update times before each year. Review the hours for each school along your normal work commute. If you’re a parent, be sure your children understand the pick-up and drop-off times, too. The chances of an accident are significantly reduced when both child and parent know what to do and what not to do, especially during the 8:00 am and 3:00 pm rush hour.
3) Look. Stop. Listen.
You know to obey standard road laws, lights, and school bus stop signs. But you also need to be aware of your surroundings, including pedestrians and children, particularly those who are too young to look both ways.
As you approach heavy traffic near schools, watch for crossing guards directing traffic. Every guard does through training to monitor and regulate the flow of traffic, while also directing children safely across the street. We also recommend speaking to your children about crossing the street safely even if the school crossing guard is there to assist.
2) Steer Clear Of Cyclists
As is always the case, you need to share the road with bicyclists, regardless of the ugly, skin-tight cycling shorts they’ve decided to wear. With children running around and acting unpredictable, cyclists may have no other option than to swerve to avoid them. Worse yet, children may also be biking to school, and they are unlikely to understand traffic laws as well as you.
Here are some common tips to safely drive around cyclists:
- Never tailgate a cyclist. Leave at least 6 feet between your car and their bike.
- Always check your side-view mirrors when making turns. Cyclists may be riding in your blind spot.
- When reversing out of your driveway, keep an eye out for passing bikes on the sidewalk.
- Don’t open your door without first checking for approaching cyclists.
- Never pass a cyclist when there is oncoming traffic. Share the space and overtake once both sides of the road are clear.
1) Carpools Are Your Friend
The best way to reduce incidences of injury around schools is to travel in groups. If you’re able to chauffeur even one of your child’s friends, you’ll help cut traffic congestion significantly. If 1 in 3 families carpooled, the world would be a safer place.
But before you try and shove everyone in the back of a cramped car, you should probably reconsider your mode of transportation. Invest in a large SUV or minivan, like the Honda Pilot or Honda Odyssey. That way you’ll have the capacity to load and unload up to 7 kids to and from school. Talk about efficiency, huh?
If you need a safe vehicle for back-to-school season in Arizona, take a trip to your nearest Valley Honda Dealers. We have Honda dealerships throughout Phoenix Valley, including Tempe, Scottsdale, Mesa, Avondale, and Prescott. Request a quote online or contact us for more details about scheduling a test drive. (And good luck this school year, kiddos!)