Back-to-school-fall driving, 101

Fall is more than just a change of weather; it’s the season to begin changing our driving habits. When children return to school it’s also time for a little driver re-education. Accordingly, here’s today’s lesson, “Back-to-school-safe driving.”

With school now in session, drivers must remember to be extra careful and vigilant. Intersections near schools which were quiet in summer are now teeming with children up to four times a day; even a single child might be crossing at any time from dawn to dusk. Because they are unpredictable it’s up to drivers to slow down in school zones and be ready to stop at any time.

Pay attention to crossing guards and their signals to you. Crossing Guards walk the children half way through the intersection, stop to watch that the last straggler has made it safely to the other sidewalk and then they might return to the side they started from. If you’re on that side and you try to make a right turn thinking the guard will continue across the street, you might hit the guard on his way back. Not a good thing to do!

Since not every intersection on a school path has a Crossing Guard, remember to keep an eye out, at these unmanned crosswalks, watching for children hurrying to or from school. Keep watching, even as you drive away from the intersection, for children crossing in the middle of the road and possibly running out from between parked cars. After school, they’re out again playing football or road hockey, so keep vigilant, especially with daylight fading to dusk earlier each day as we approach winter.

Also, watch for the flashing lights of school buses and remember that they can stop anywhere, not just at intersections. The only exception to the rule is in the case of a divided highway; otherwise, always stop and at a safe distance, no matter which way you’re travelling. There’s a hefty fine attached as well as public shame for failing to do so.

School buildings are traffic magnets, especially urban schools with carpooling families; to deal with this traffic rush, schools have developed specific directions and rules about drop offs, pick-ups and parking. These rules not only help to prevent a chaotic and dangerous situation, they actually make things move more quickly. Everyone benefits, including you, when all drivers cooperate and follow the school’s rules.

If you’re parking in a school lot, it’s much better to back into the parking spot since your biggest blind spot is behind your vehicle. Backing out of a spot in the rush of school mornings and afternoons can be extremely difficult and you might have to wait for an opening, whereas going forward out of your spot is much safer and easier on the nerves. Actually, this bit of advice holds true for any parking lot, be it a plaza, mall, hospital, etc.

The last thing in the world that you want is to hit a child. It will live with you forever. Being more careful and focused, obeying the rules of the road and watching for children will help to reduce the chance of accident or injury. The few extra minutes it might take to arrive are beyond worth it.

Any questions? No? Good; class dismissed! Here at Newmarket Auto Body, the staff are all PhDs of auto body repair. To find out more, please call 905-898-7388 or visit our Newmarket shop at 505 Kent Dr.