As children across Virginia head back to school, it is a good time to review some essential driving tips. It is easy to forget some of the rules of the road after a couple of months of student-free summer driving. Parents and teenage drivers should review the following tips to ensure a safe back-to-school season.
Beware of Pedestrians and Bicyclists
Children who live close enough to walk to their school should ideally use the sidewalk. However, not every neighborhood has sidewalks, so drivers should be aware that some students may be walking on the road. In addition, drivers should pay particular attention to intersections and crosswalks, especially for younger walkers who may not fully understand what they should do to cross. With older walkers, cellphone use is a problem. When driving, know that they will probably not be entirely focused on where they are going.
While children should know the rules of safe biking, they may not always follow them. It is up to parents and other drivers to be safe around students bicycling to school. This includes minding blind sports, paying particular attention to riders in intersections and crosswalks, and giving bicyclists enough room on the road.
Students may not always be in designated crosswalks or other safe places. They will be at bus stops, on sidewalks, on the playground, in parking lots, between parked cars, and in any number of other places. In a school zone, do not pass other cars, change lanes, make U-turns, or use a cellphone. Total concentration on safety is required.
Heed Bus Rules
Children are difficult to see when they enter or leave a bus, particularly if they need to cross the street. Motorists must always stop when the bus driver puts out the stop sign, whether they are approaching or following the bus. A general rule of thumb is for cars to stop at least 10 feet behind or in front of the bus. Also, never try to pass a stopped bus; a child could dart out at any time.
Pay Attention to School Zone Speed Limits
Those school zone traffic lights may have been turned off for most of the summer, but they are back on starting on the first day of school. Reduce speed to 20 miles per hour or whatever the sign indicates. Get accustomed to where school zones stop and start once the school year begins.
Be Aware of Crosswalks
Many schools use parents or older students to help children cross busy intersections. Some schools rely on marked crosswalks, either with or without a flashing light, for children to cross. Regardless, every driver should be aware of special crossing paths around a school.
Know the Rules of Student Drop-Off and Pick-Up Areas
Every school will have procedures for parents to drop their children off safely. Parents and other drivers should always heed the rules, times, and locations for drop-off and pick-up areas to ensure the safety of all students and teachers.
Review Rules With Teenage Drivers
New motorists should understand safe driving rules, especially when school is in session. Parents should review with teenagers the importance of obeying speed limits, watching out for school zones and crosswalks, and driving safely while sharing the road with walkers and bike riders.
It is not uncommon for teenagers who drive to school to pick up one or two other students on the way. Parents should set firm rules for how many others can be in the car and discuss penalties for distracted driving, including cellphone use and loud music.
Never Use Handicapped or Emergency Lanes and Parking Spots
These are dedicated for a reason and need to be kept free for proper use. Also, never double park. Doing so makes it difficult for children to assess a traffic situation.
How can I Help My Children Arrive Safely at School?
While drivers must take full responsibility for driving safely while school is in session, students also have some responsibility. Parents of both younger and older students should review the following rules.
Some important walking safety tips include:
- Students should walk on the sidewalk if there is one.
- If no sidewalk, children should walk facing the traffic.
- Practice stopping and going at intersections with younger children, especially what lights, pavement markings, and signals mean.
- Teach younger children how to look before crossing, and wait to ensure a safe passage if there are oncoming cars.
- Stress the importance of not getting distracted while walking, which means no cellphone use, headphones, playing games, and other distractions.
- Make their leaving time ample enough to arrive at school on time without hurrying.
Student bicyclists should practice the following:
- Students should ride on the road with traffic in a single file line.
- Bicyclists should wear a helmet and reflective clothing.
- Parents should teach them to come to a complete stop at intersections and to walk the bike across the street.
- Know the meanings of road signs.
- Parents should make sure they are riding without any distractions, such as cellphones or headphones.
Bus Riding Safety
Parents should both teach and practice bus safety with their children:
- Show them where to get on the bus. Also, ride the route the bus will take to make them familiar with the trip to school.
- Teach them how to properly get on and off the bus.
- Show them where to stand while waiting for the bus, which is ideally 6 feet away from the curb.
- Discuss how cars could come around the bus from the front or back and how they should always look before darting out.
- Students and the bus driver should always be able to see each other if they must cross the street in front of the bus.
Steps to Take After a Virginia Car Accident
Whether near a school or not, there are certain steps a car accident victim should follow, including:
- Call 911 to report the accident.
- Seek and accept medical assistance at the scene of the accident and afterward.
- Document the accident scene. Take cellphone pictures and videos of vehicle damage, injuries, strewn parts, location of vehicles, weather conditions, road conditions, and any other pertinent images.
- Talk to bystanders and witnesses. Try to get a statement about what happened, and collect their contact information for future use.
- Cooperate with police, and file a police report. Do not overshare with the police.
- Do not admit guilt or liability in any way to others involved, and do not apologize.
- Write down as many recollections as possible right after the accident, such as what happened, what speed the car was going, what the traffic signals indicated, weather and road conditions, and behavior of other parties.
- Do not accept any offer from an insurance company without first consulting a car accident lawyer. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible. The sooner a lawyer can get started on the case, the better chance there is to preserve evidence.
Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC Advocate for Back-to-School Car Accident Victims
The Virginia Beach car accident lawyers at Anchor Legal Group, PLLC help injured drivers all year long, including throughout the school season. If you were injured in a back-to-school car accident, we can fight on your behalf. Call us at 757-LAW-0000 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Virginia Beach, we serve clients in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Newport News, Hampton, and Eastern Shore, Virginia. We also serve our clients throughout the United States through our network of associated attorneys.