Safety tips for drivers during back-to-school season

What's the first sign of fall? For many drivers, it's the presence of many more pedestrians -- mostly children -- trying to cross city streets and board school buses trying to make their way through traffic.

Back-to-school season makes the morning commute much harder for many drivers. Drivers have to contend with school buses and increased pedestrian traffic. School zones also become much more congested as anxious parents start driving in and dropping their children off as close to the school as possible.

What's a weary commuter to do? Follow these tips for safety during school time:

Build extra time into your commute

Unless you know a detour that will take you far from the school zone, it's best to build extra time into your commute. That way, you won't even be tempted to go quickly. It's imperative to slow down in any school zone, especially when the lights are flashing.

Know the rules regarding buses

You need to remember that buses have blind spots similar to large trucks and keep more distance between your vehicle and a bus than you would another car. Watch for the yellow light on any bus in front of you to start flashing as a warning that the bus is about to stop.

In addition, remember that it doesn't matter what side of the road you are on -- you're supposed to stop when a bus is loading or unloading children. That's the No. 1 safety rule to remember because many bus-related accidents involving small children happen when they step out in front of a moving vehicle.

Stay alert and focused

You may want to grab an extra cup of coffee before you hit the road to make sure that you're wide awake and paying attention to the road. Children can be unpredictable and may dart across a road suddenly or forget to look both ways. Even if a school has crosswalks and a crossing guard, don't rely on the idea that children will stick to the appropriate spots to cross.

Pedestrian-related car accidents can be devastating for everyone involved, so take these tips to heart and make sure that you do everything in your power to avoid something tragic.

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