5 Great Tips For Back-To-School Driver Safety

5 Great Tips For Back-To-School Driver Safety

That time of year has arrived when the leisurely days of summer turn to the bustling routines of autumn. Kids are getting ready for school, rush hour awaits, and the changing of the clocks is just around the corner. Now is a great time to brush up on basic driving safety for yourself and the new drivers you might know.

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), the most dangerous time of vehicle-related pedestrian injuries and fatalities is the fall months. More children are on the streets for school, the days get shorter reducing light and visibility, and distracted drivers have more to contend with on the road.

Be Alert Even When Following the Speed Limit

Surprisingly, most pedestrian fatalities occur when a driver is traveling within the posted speed limit. It’s the limit itself that is the issue. The higher the speed limit, the higher the fatality rate from a crash. With higher speeds, driver reaction time is shorter, and stopping distance is longer. A third of child injuries occur because children tend to dart into the road or jaywalk, and a driver either doesn’t see them in time or is unable to stop before colliding. Posted areas around schools are prime locations for this to occur since the speed limit can reduce suddenly. Keep your eyes on the road, but make sure you take in the surroundings for unexpected surprises.

Walkers Need to Be Alert Too

Jaywalking is a chronic problem that never goes away. While pedestrians do have the right-of-way in a street, they can--and do--create dangerous situations by not paying attention to traffic. Remember to cross at marked intersections and never from between parked cars. Try to plan ahead and wear brighter colors at night if you will be out after dark. Texting while walking is a new distraction. Keep aware of your surroundings at all times, especially while in the street. If you have younger people in your life, remind them to follow the rules of the road and to look up when crossing the street.

Watch Out for School Buses

Municipalities across the country are clamping down on bad driving behavior around school buses with higher fines for failing to follow the law. Never pass a bus with flashing lights, watch for children crossing the street going to and from the bus, and leave plenty of distance between you and bus so that bus  drivers can see you behind them. Relax for a minute while the bus drivers do their job to protect the children under their care. If you have children, remind them to cross in front of the bus, never behind it, and to follow the simple bus rules.

Always Use Seatbelts

The value of seatbelts is long-established at this point, so make sure everyone in the car is wearing one. Wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of  injury by 50% and fatalities by 45%. With school comes ride-sharing for class and extra-curricular activities. Many cities and towns have instituted laws making drivers responsible for ensuring all passengers are wearing seatbelts, especially underage passengers under their care. With often noisy, boisterous kids in the car, making sure they have their seatbelts will be one less worry while driving. Once you establish the seatbelt habit for you and your passengers, it becomes second-nature to do so in probably the easiest way to improve safety.

Review Driving Rules

Studies show that most people think they are better drivers than they are! No one likes to think they are a bad driver, but take a moment to review the rules of the road. Memories fade, and laws change. It is a good idea to check your knowledge, especially since distracted driving and cell phone use have become major factors in traffic accidents. Many insurance companies even offer insurance discounts for completing driver safety courses. The courses take anywhere from four to twelve hours to complete and can save hundreds of dollars over three to five years, depending on the insurers. Courses charge a low fee compared to the discount and are available online and in-person. Or, if you have a new driver in the family, test your knowledge against theirs while they study for their license. Spending time to refresh your memory greatly improves your driving safety---and might even save a life.



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