You’ve probably noticed the crowds of back-to-school shoppers recently flooding stores across the state of Mississippi, which means one thing. School is almost back in session.
With the return of the school year, comes more traffic. Here are some back-to-school safety tips for drivers.
Driving through a school zone
- If you’re driving through a school zone, be conscientious of the time of day. Always assume that there will be heavy traffic in school zones between 7-9 a.m. and 2-4 p.m.
- Plan accordingly. If you know you can’t avoid a school zone in your daily route to work, try leaving a few minutes earlier. According to the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, an additional 20-30 percent of morning traffic is generated by parents driving their kids to school.
- Never exceed 15 miles per hour in a school zone as children could be crossing the street at any given time and at any given place; don’t expect kids to always use crosswalks.
- If a parent or school bus stops in front of you, don’t try and quickly swerve around them. Be courteous and stay alert for flashing lights on a bus, which warns of an impending stop.
- All-in-all. just be careful and focused when driving through a school zone as fines are typically doubled.
Using a school zone as a parent
- Just as if you were somebody passing through, slow down and drive extra cautiously when you enter a school zone.
- Try not to load and unload your children across the street from the school. The closer to the door, the better.
- If you need to call your child, pull over to use your phone. However, make sure not to double park. Not only is this inconsiderate, but it blocks visibility for other children and drivers.
- Try and find, or start, a carpool group with other parents. This will not only decrease the amount of traffic in school zones, but it will ultimately save you some time.
- Remind your children how to be safe in school zones. This includes looking both ways when crossing the street, always wearing a seatbelt when the vehicle is moving, and paying attention each and every time they get on and off the bus or in and out of the car.
Stay off the phone—in and out of school zones
- Last but not least, it’s crucial that you stay off the phone when driving—whether you’re in a school zone or not.
- Don’t use social media while driving. A recent survey of 3,100 drivers found that 1 in 3 Mississippi drivers admit to using social media behind the wheel. More specifically, nearly 1 in 5 admitted to taking selfies while driving.
- Even if you’re not looking at social media, what seems like it’s just a quick text message can take your attention away from the road a whole lot longer than you think. For example, responding to a text takes about five seconds. Traveling at 55 miles per hour, that five seconds is enough time to go the length of a football field without your eyes on the road.
- Some calls are imperative. There’s no doubt about that. If you have to make a phone call, pull over if possible or try using a hands-free device such as Bluetooth.
- It’s illegal for all Mississippi motorists to use a handheld mobile telephone or portable electronic device to text or go on social media (Exception: Mississippi’s texting ban doesn’t apply to hands-free devices). A ticket of this nature carries a $100 fine.
Share these tips with your friends to make sure everybody stays safe this school year! For more advice on driving safely through school zones, click here.