School’s in session – drive and walk with care

This content is sponsored by District Department of Transportation

As summer ends and kids head back to school, traffic in the D.C. area will increase along with safety concerns.

While schools in the District and Virginia have already started, there will be nearly 2.5 million children in the D.C. area back in school by September 4th. Whether they are walking, biking, taking the bus or getting a ride, these children will be part of the commute in the mornings and afternoons.

Its important drivers are aware of the increased number of pedestrians and bicyclists on the roads. Drivers must watch for children who are walking to and from school and pay close attention in school zones, neighborhoods and school bus stops.

With more kids walking and biking to school, drivers must make sure they are not distracted while driving. Children may be more focused on getting to school than focused on getting there safely. Motorists need to be extra cautious and aware of children crossing the streets, walking on the streets and waiting at bus stops. Drivers should make sure to park the phone and eliminate any other distractions while behind the wheel.

Another thing to keep in mind is the number of school buses back on the roads. Motorists must stop for school buses and stay alert when approaching school buses and bus stops. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to pick up or drop off children.

School buses indicate stopping and children getting on or off with a red flashing light and extended stop arm. Drivers must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing and the extended stop-arm is withdrawn.

Here are some tips for drivers to make back-to-school safer for everyone:

  • Slow down. Keep an eye out for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks in a neighborhood.
  • When driving in neighborhoods with school zones, be extra cautious of an increased number of children walking and biking.
  • Always yield to pedestrians in crosswalks or waiting to cross in a crosswalk.
  • When backing out of a driveway or exiting a garage, watch out for children walking or bicycling to school.
  • Watch for children playing and hanging out near bus stops.
  • Always stop for a school crossing guard holding up a stop sign.
  • In school zones when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection.
  • The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children. Stop far enough back to give children enough room to get on and off the bus safely.

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