Nearly three-quarters of American students don’t feel safe crossing the intersections near their schools, with students in 22 states giving their school intersections only a “C” for safety, according to recent data from Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.
This is because the majority of surveyed students claim the streets around their schools lack important safety features, including crossing guards and school zone markings. Without these safety features, drivers may not know to slow down and drive with caution and pedestrians may, rightfully, fear for their safety.
Teen drivers can be an especially high risk in these areas, since they lack the experience of older drivers and may not remember what to do when they’re stopped behind a school bus, for example. As children head back to school this season, it is crucial that your teen understands the dangers of driving in a school zone and what to do in different situations.
When your teen drives in or near a school zone, he or she should always:
- Obey school zone speed limits, even during non-school hours.
- Watch for pedestrians and stop for them to cross the road, whether there is a crossing guard present or not.
- Stop for buses with their red ‘stop’ sign extended. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus when it is stopped to load or unload children. If on an undivided roadway, traffic in both directions must halt for a stopped school bus.
- Pay special attention when within 10 feet of a school bus, as this is the area where children are in the most danger.
- Look for pedestrians at every intersection. Children can be unpredictable and may dart out into the road quickly, especially if they are riding a bike. Your teen should constantly scan the road in all directions when navigating a school zone.
Drivers always need to be focused, but school zones deserve special attention. With these lessons, your teen can become a safer driver and improve the confidence and safety of pedestrians in school zones and all other traffic situations.