School is back in session — 5 back to school tips for drivers

ERIE (AP) — It’s back to school time for many states across the U.S. More pedestrians and vehicles will hit the streets, so it’s important for drivers to slow down and keep an eye out for kids around schools and their neighborhoods.

Here are five driving tips to keep in mind as kids head back to the classroom.

1. School Zones — Pay attention to school zones. Most often, schools have flashing lights with a posted speed limit sign during the morning drop off and afternoon dismissal. However, pay close attention during off hours when the lights come on for sports, band practices or other school related events. Speeding fines are typically doubled in school zones.

2. Bus Safety — Take extra precaution when you’re behind, or approaching, a school bus. It’s important to leave enough space between you and the bus to give kids room to cross the street. Many buses have retractable crossing “arms” that keep kids safely out in front of the bus when crossing the street and visible to other drivers. And remember, it is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.

3. School Drop Off Procedure — If you’re a parent and regularly drop kids off at school or take turns in a car pool, it’s important to plan ahead and understand your school’s drop off and pick up procedures. Some tips to keep in mind from the National Safe Routes to School Program are:

Don’t double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles. Don’t load or unload children across the street from the school. Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school.

4. Stay Alert — As a parent or driver around schools, it’s important to avoid distractions in the car, such as cell phones or other electronic devices. Your driving skills should be on point, too. Make full stops at stop signs and leave enough room for kids to cross the street. It’s also a time to teach kids by example. Your attention to safety and caution while driving will resonate with them, especially teens, when they’re ready to get behind the wheel.

5. Be Prepared for More Traffic — This goes for anyone traveling during the beginning of the school day or end. There are more cars on the roads during these peak commute times. It’s important to not only watch out for kids and children traveling on foot or by bike, but keep an eye out for other motorists or school buses making sudden stops. It’s always a good idea to allow a few extra minutes in the beginning of the school year to determine a new route or longer commute if necessary.

Even when you follow all the rules an accident can happen. Your Erie Insurance agent is there to make sure you get the right coverage so if something bad ever comes your way; you’re back on the road, right away.