Our personal injury attorneys in Austin, Texas at Glen Larson Law Injury Attorneys know that back-to-school season is one of the busiest times of year for every parent and child — no matter their ages.
Whether you have college-aged kids heading off to school for the first time, returning to college campus, high school kids who are driving themselves to school, or smaller children who walk, ride their bikes, or take a bus to school, school days bring congestion to our roads.
While it is always important to avoid distractions when driving, the back-to-school season brings even more reasons to take precautions. Texas drivers must be prepared for anything.
Here are a few tips to help keep you informed of the potential hazards associated with school being back in session.
Be Aware of the Increased Potential for Car Accidents in Texas
Kids are not the only ones that must readjust to school being back in session – most drivers are simply unprepared for the increased traffic a new school year brings.
Here is why:
- There are now school buses stopping to pick up and drop off kids, stopping at all railroad crossings, and moving at a safe pace that can frustrate other drivers.
- There are harried parents trying to drop their kids off before work.
- There are school zone traffic laws and crosswalks that require drivers to slow for extended lengths.
- There are drivers from out of town — including college students or their parents — who are unfamiliar with the roads, and who may be distracted by their GPS or the local sites.
- There are more inexperienced drivers — including high school and college drivers — and will be on the road more than usual.
- Distracted driving in all these scenarios becomes even more dangerous than usual.
If you are involved in an accident caused by a negligent driver, call the police to ensure an official report is completed and filed, seek medical care right away, and contact our skilled car accident attorneys in Texas for help.
Be Aware When Traveling in Texas School Zones
Most schools have specific pick-up and drop-off procedures for parents to follow to ensure they are not blocking traffic, and to ensure everyone is safe.
To help increase school zone safety:
- Carpool, when possible, to reduce the number of vehicles at the school.
- Never double park, as it blocks visibility for children, other parents, and other motorists.
- Never load or unload children across the street from the school, so they do not have to cross the street.
Remember, children are unpredictable, so it is important to stay focused, drive slowly, and be prepared for anything when traveling in school zones throughout Texas.
Sharing the Road with School Buses in Texas
The biggest tip for sharing the road with school buses in Texas, or anywhere, is it is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
That means, if the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended on a school bus, all traffic must stop.
If you are traveling behind a school bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing and will allow the children a safe distance to travel around the bus when entering or exiting.
Back-to-school Pedestrian Safety Tips
The National Safety Council reported that most of the children who lose their lives in bus-related incidents are between four and seven years old — and were also on foot. These tragic accidents are either the result of these small children being hit by a school bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus.
To avoid these preventable accidents, injuries, and fatalities, all drivers must:
- Always stop and yield to pedestrians crossing in a crosswalk or intersection in a school zone when flashers are blinking.
- Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign.
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
- Never block a crosswalk when stopped at a traffic sign or signal, or while making a turn that forces pedestrians to walk around the vehicle placing them in the path of moving traffic.
- Never honk or take aggressive actions to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way.
Sharing the Road with Bicyclists
On most Texas roads, bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles. The difference is bicycles are much harder to see and are much more vulnerable.
Children riding bikes create special problems for drivers because they are smaller and even harder to see and are typically unable to properly determine traffic conditions.
To help keep all bicyclists safe:
- Be extra vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods.
- Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars.
- Proceed in the same direction when passing a bicyclist, traveling slowly, leaving three feet between your car and the cyclist.
- When a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass before turning left.
- When a bicyclist is approaching on the same side from behind, wait for the rider to pass before turning right.
- Check side mirrors before opening your door.
By exercising a little extra care and caution during the school year, drivers and pedestrians can co-exist safely throughout Texas.
If you have suffered an injury or lost a loved one during an accident in Texas, call our skilled personal injury attorneys at Glen Larson Law Injury Attorneys at (512) 883-0277 or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation.
We pursue dedicated, driven results for our clients, and there is never a charge to talk to an attorney. We stand ready to help you.