As the Alabama heat begins to break, residents of Birmingham slowly revive from the lazy days of summer and look forward to the coming season. Along with cooler mornings and relenting humidity, the air is charged with the excitement of going back to school.
School’s Back in Session
Birmingham students are officially going back to school. While our city’s roads are busy all year round, the onset of the school year means an increase in traffic, with particular congestion during the morning and afternoon hours. This new level of traffic brings a heightened need for awareness, care and preparation in order to keep our students safe.
At the law firm of Pittman, Dutton & Hellums, we work hard to protect the rights of Birmingham residents. Along with representing victims of car accident and personal injury, our goal is to help our community by promoting safe driving habits that prevent injuries from happening. And nowhere is it more important to prevent injury than in school zones full of children.
We have put together a list of safe driving tips to help every Birmingham driver stay on the right side of the law and protect our local students. By following the safe driving tips below, we can all do our part to make sure that Birmingham’s students are able to pursue a bright future.
Back to School Safety Tips for Drivers
Give yourself extra time
During the school year, a vast number of drivers are joining traffic at roughly the same time of day. Between the parents dropping off and picking up their kids, teachers and administrators getting to work, school buses pulling up to the curb, and students rushing to class, there is a frenzy of activity packed into the space of an hour.
This extra activity almost definitely means a delay for those commuting at this time of day.
Put down the phone
Distracted driving always poses a deadly risk. Add children into the mix, with their quick and unpredictable movements, and you could have a disaster on your hands in less time than it takes to get a text message. Safe driving around schools necessitates a “no phone, no matter what” policy.
Watch your blind spots
Entering school grounds should provoke an instant reaction to decrease your speed and increase your awareness. Primary schools are surrounded by children who can move quickly and unpredictably, while high schools are thick with teen drivers who need a lot more “cushion.” As a more experienced driver, it is up to you to keep an eye on your blind spots and go the extra mile to ensure everyone’s safety.
Come to a complete stop at stop signs
No matter how late you are, there is no excuse for rolling stops, especially in a school zone. Also, remember that it is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus with its flashers or stop sign on display.
Tips for Parents & Students
Stay on the sidewalk
In 2010, nearly 20 percent of children killed in traffic accidents were pedestrians. If your child is 10 years old or younger, make sure they know to remain on the sidewalk and not meander into the street. By staying close to an adult or within a large group, they can also be better protected from being struck by careless drivers.
Use crosswalks and listen to crossing guards
Make sure children not only know how to cross the street by stopping at the curb and looking left-right-left for traffic before crossing, but also understand that they must obey crossing guards even if they think it is safe to cross. Set a good example by following these safety procedures yourself; it can help your child develop good safety habits.
Put your phone down
Pokemon Go can wait. So can that text message from your friends. When it’s time to cross the road or board the school bus, put away your phone and focus on getting to your destination safely before you resume using it.
For parents, designating a pick-up and drop-off spot with your child can be an essential safety measure. An accident can occur if your child is reading your text message while he or she is trying to navigate busy school grounds. If you have to contact your children, do it ahead of time and remind them not to use their phone when crossing the street.
Be observant of bicyclists
No list of back-to-school safe driving tips would be complete without a word about bicycles. With bicycle use growing in urban areas all over the country, drivers need to be prepared to share the road with bicyclists, even if there isn’t a bike lane. If your child is riding their bike to school, emphasize the importance of wearing a helmet. It is also essential to teach your child how to use hand signals while on a bike and to train him/her to scan ahead for cars that are backing out or about to open doors.
By observing these back to school driving tips, we can all make sure that Birmingham students have a safe and productive school year.