In the summer, it’s easy to forget just how much the school year impacts what you’ll encounter on the roads. In the next couple of weeks, students across Maine will be returning to school for the 2016/2017 school year. As a result, now is the perfect time to adjust your driving habits to avoid injuring someone or getting in a car accident. Here are some tips:
1. Obey posted speed limits. Children will be out on the sidewalks, getting to school in the morning and coming home in the afternoon. One of the things you can do to prevent injuring someone with your vehicle is to always obey posted speed limits. Be aware of reduced speeds in school zones. Speeding can be a major factor in pedestrian accidents, and traveling too fast can prevent you from recognizing children near your vehicle.
2. Be alert for children on sidewalks, in crosswalks, darting between cars, crossing behind your vehicle and otherwise being present in places you expect to see and don’t expect to see them. Don’t expect children to behave like an adult pedestrian does. They don’t always remember the rules about where they can walk. They may also forget to check both ways for cars. As an adult driver, take it upon yourself to practice cautious driving by checking carefully behind you before you reverse. On neighborhood roads, anticipate children darting into the road from between cars. And always remember to yield to pedestrians as they cross the street.
3. Stop for school buses when you are supposed to. If you come upon a school bus with flashing red lights and an extended “stop” sign, stop your vehicle. These things indicate that children are boarding or leaving the bus. Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is preparing to stop for loading/unloading, and you should slow down and get ready to stop.
4. Include more time in your commute or anytime you are driving somewhere. Traffic is likely to increase, or you may find normal traffic times shift, as the school year begins. Allow yourself extra time to drive to your destination so that you can accommodate this increased traffic.
5. Work to eliminate driving distractions. Maybe you can’t guarantee you’ll never get distracted while driving, but you can eliminate those sources of distraction under your control. Turn your cell phone to silent and place it out of sight. You can even set up an automated text message to respond to people who call or text you while you are driving.
These tips can help keep you, your loved ones and all the pedestrians on the street stay safer.