Driving for Back-to-School – Reminders for Parents and Students

It’s the time of the year again when parents, children, teachers, and school officials are gearing up for the new academic year. 

Likewise, school bus drivers are preparing for the forthcoming school year. As customary, they double-check their vehicles and brush up on their safe driving skills to ensure that the first day of school kicks off smoothly and safely.

Naturally, drivers and students may have difficulty adjusting to their back-to-school routines after a few months-long break. Some school officials may have issued new bus routes for various reasons (such as avoiding possible congestion, new students on the bus), adding to the challenge.

Fortunately, a few essential tips can help to improve safety for everyone. Here are the following tips for the parents who pick up and drop off their children at school and the students who choose to commute to and from school on their own.

School zone driving tips for parents:

  • Drive slowly and cautiously.
  • Look out for school crossing guards and follow their signals.
  • Always follow the speed limits.
  • Obey all traffic laws.
  • Always stop for school buses when they load or unload children.
  • Resist the temptation to speed, even on empty roads. Speeding can increase the chances of accidents. There are times that children appear suddenly and in unexpected places, e.g., when they’re cycling and turning in front of you without warning. So, always be prepared for that.
  • Do not double-park, as it blocks the view for the children and other vehicles.
  • Do not switch lanes when driving in a school zone.
  • Do not pass other vehicles when driving in a school zone.
  • Do not text or do anything else while driving in a school zone.
  • Unless you’re using your cell phone hands-free, please refrain from using it while driving in a school zone.
  • Do not make a U-turn when driving in a school zone.
  • Many students cross the street while distracted by technology, particularly smartphones. Watch out for children walking while looking at their phones or other mobile gadgets.
  • Never block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting before making your turn. Doing so would force pedestrians to go around you and put themselves in the path of moving traffic.
  • Do not use handicapped or emergency vehicle lanes when driving to pick up or drop off children at school.

Tips for driving safely when they see a school bus

If you’re sharing the road with a school bus, consider the following information:

  • Never pass a school bus that stops to load or unload children. It’s in the law that applies to all 50 states.
  • If you’re driving behind a school bus, leave a significant distance between you and the bus. The distance should be at least the equivalent of three car lengths.
  • Be on the lookout for flashing lights on a school bus, warning other motorists of an impending stop. Once you see the yellow flashing lights, decrease your speed. Then, stop driving when you see the red lights flashing.

The area 10 feet around a school bus is considered the riskiest for children. Stop far enough away to allow the children to get on and get off the bus safely. Do not proceed until all the children have reached a place of safety.

It’s important to drive and share the road safely all year long. But the forthcoming school year is an even more crucial time to be aware of your surroundings, especially in school zones and residential areas. Following these tips will help you arrive at school and safely return home each day.

This article, “Guidance for the Public to Share the Road Safely with PA School Buses,” may also help. And, if you would like to drive or are considering a career as a Pennsylvania school bus driver, check out the jobs available near you.