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With the back-to-school season approaching in Baton Rouge, ensuring a safe commute for everyone on the road becomes a top priority. Statistics from the NHTSA reveal that between 2011 and 2020, there were 1,009 fatal school-transportation-related crashes, resulting in the loss of 1,125 lives.

Out of 113 fatalities in school transportation vehicles, 53 were drivers, and 60 were passengers. However, there were 1.6 times more fatalities among pedestrians in these school-transportation-related incidents. 

As parents, students, and educators eagerly prepare for the new academic year, drivers must remain vigilant, patient, and committed to following established safety guidelines.

Commuter Safety Tips for Back-to-School Traffic

As drivers, being proactive can help ensure everyone’s safety on the road, especially when children are involved. As you commute in and around school zones, take the following steps to prioritize the safety of your Baton Rouge community:

●      Being Mindful of Children Walking to and from School

During morning and afternoon commutes, drivers should be extra cautious of increased pedestrian activity, especially near school zones. According to NHTSA, most accidents occur during peak commuting hours, between  7 a.m. to 7:59 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 3:59 p.m.

Data shows that from 2011 to 2020, 38 pedestrians were involved in fatal crashes between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., with an additional 32 fatalities between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

During busy commuting times for school, it’s essential to stay alert for children crossing streets or walking on sidewalks. Slow down and exercise caution, particularly in residential areas where children are more likely to be present.

●      Adhering to School Zone Speed Limits

Familiarize yourself with your parish’s specific school-zone speed limits and follow them as indicated. Reducing your speed well before entering a school zone is crucial to allow for the shift in speed and any unexpected situations.

Be aware of designated crosswalks and always yield to pedestrians in these areas. Drivers should follow any instructions or signals from crossing guards in school zones.

●      Best Practices for Sharing the Road with School Buses

Understanding the laws and regulations for stopping when approaching school buses can help ensure the safety of children. When a school bus extends its stop sign and activates flashing lights, drivers must come to a complete stop.

Maintain a safe distance of 20 feet behind the bus, providing ample time and enough space for children to board or exit. Proceed with caution only when the bus resumes motion or the stop sign is retracted, ensuring the safety of all passengers and pedestrians.

●      Encouraging Safe Practices for Child Pedestrians

While some children may be taught how to safely navigate walking to school or boarding school buses, many are not. Also, children may not remember safety training, so it’s important not to assume they do not always have safety in mind.

As a driver, you must exercise extra caution near bus stops, school entrances, and crosswalks. Be prepared for children to dart into the road unexpectedly; keep your eyes on the road, crosswalks, and surrounding sidewalks near a school zone or bus stop. Always yield to pedestrians and provide them with ample space to cross the road safely.

●      Eliminating Distracted Driving

To create a safer back-to-school environment, drivers must eliminate distractions while behind the wheel. Activities such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, or grooming divert attention from the road and increase the risk of accidents.

Keep your focus on driving and maintaining awareness of your surroundings. A split second of distraction can have serious consequences, especially in areas where children are present.

●      Practicing Patience and Courtesy on the Road

In the hustle and bustle of back-to-school traffic, drivers need to practice patience and courtesy. Avoid aggressive driving behaviors such as tailgating, honking excessively, or changing lanes abruptly.

Instead, maintain a calm and patient demeanor, especially in school zones and areas with heavy pedestrian traffic. Use your turn signals to communicate your intentions to other drivers and be considerate of others who may be unfamiliar with the area or school zones.

Seeking Justice and Compensation after a Car Accident

Despite practicing safe driving, accidents can still happen. If you or a loved one is involved in a car accident in Baton Rouge, speak to a compassionate Baton Rouge car accident lawyer from Dudley DeBosier.  Our experienced car accident attorneys have years of experience navigating complex vehicle collision cases and can help you understand your rights and legal options. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

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