Back to School Driving Tips for New Drivers
Once a teen has spent their summer vacation earning their Level 2 or Level 3 driver’s license and has maybe just gotten their first car, what’s one place they’re bound to spend a lot of time driving to? School. With back-to-school season just around the corner, they may be looking forward to starting the school year driving themselves to class each day instead of walking, taking the bus, or getting a ride from mom or dad. Perhaps they may even be planning to help out by dropping younger siblings off at school along the way.
But just because going to and from school every day may seem like a mundane, routine thing to do, that doesn’t mean it can’t be dangerous. Even if the route to school doesn’t involve traveling along any busy roads, at freeway-level speeds, or even if you’re not going any great distance, there are plenty of hazards to be found driving in residential neighborhoods, especially during times when kids are trying to get to school or get home after school. Here’s what you can do to get to and from school safely.
Watch for School Buses
Back-to-school season means that school buses become a more common sight on the road again. With school buses not being as active during the summer months, even more experienced drivers can benefit from a reminder about the rules for driving around school buses. If you see a bus with flashing lights, here’s what you need to do:
It’s also a good idea to think about the routes that buses in your area follow. For example, if one route to school has you following a bus that makes frequent stops, it may be best to find an alternate route. When people are worried about getting somewhere on time, having to make frequent stops can be very frustrating. And when people get frustrated and worried about being late, they tend to be more likely to cut corners on safety.
Watch for Pedestrians & Cyclists
If kids aren’t taking the bus to school, there’s a good chance that they will be walking or maybe riding their bike. It’s only natural that people, particularly children, will be out and about in the time leading up to the start of the school day and in the time after school, but don’t forget about adults who may be walking or riding their bikes to work around that time. With that in mind, it’s very important to keep a close eye out for cyclists and pedestrians. Children in particular are prone to acting unpredictably and may do something like suddenly dart out into the street or try to cross a street when they aren’t supposed to.
Mind Your Speed
Speed limits are in place for good reasons, particularly speed limits in school zones. Speed is one of the most common contributing factors to fatal car crashes involving teens. Remember that school zone speed limits may be enforced during certain times, so speed limits could be lower than they normally would be.
Speaking of speed, a good way to avoid the temptation to speed is to make sure you leave the house early so that you have plenty of time to park before heading to class. This will help you avoid any problems like last-minute rushes in the parking lot and give you an extra cushion of time in case you get stuck in traffic along the way.
Buckle Up & Avoid Distractions
These may seem like simple steps, but they can go a long way when it comes to road safety. Make sure the phone is set on silent, put in Do Not Disturb mode, or stored someplace where you won’t be tempted to look at it. If it’s a sunny day, make sure your sunglasses are handy. If you brought your breakfast with you to eat before class, wait until you aren’t driving to enjoy it. And, of course, taking a few extra seconds to buckle that seat belt could potentially help save your life.
Say No to Passengers
We get it — when you’re first able to drive without a parent, it can seem like a really fun idea to pick up your friends and go to school together each day. But passengers can be a very dangerous distraction for teen drivers. It’s why the state of Michigan has restrictions on passengers for drivers with a Level 2 license. Research has shown that the risk of fatal car accidents for teens increases with each additional passenger in the car. So as tempting as it may be to give all your friends a lift, it’s best to head to school solo.
Contact a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer
A large percentage of all car accidents happen within a few miles of home. Even if you’re just heading a few blocks to school and it should only take a few minutes to get there, it’s absolutely possible to still get injured in a car accident along the way. This is true even if you’re doing everything right and following all the rules of the road. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t hesitate to contact a car accident lawyer to make sure all of your expenses are covered and your rights are protected.
With young drivers, insurance companies may think they can take advantage of that inexperience by trying to get you to settle for less or trying to manipulate you into admitting fault. When you work with a lawyer, you’ll have someone on your side who can stand up for you. At Goodwin & Scieszka, we have decades of experience handling Michigan auto accident cases. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.
Image: iStock / tommaso79