Hard to believe, but it is already time to start talking about going back to school. While for kids it means a return to backpacks and homework, for parents and other motorists it means a return to dodging heavier traffic, pedestrians and bicyclists on their way to and from school. It might also mean changes within your household as children begin new schedules and new activities. And perhaps you even have a student going off to college, bringing a myriad of changes to your life and the life of your child.
First things first: we recommend that you remember to pay extra attention while you are out on the road, especially during times of the day when school buses, pedestrians and bicyclists are most plentiful. The National Safety Council offers some essential safety tips for sharing the road with others.
- Know the rules for driving near school buses. Remember: it is illegal in all fifty states to pass a school bus that has stopped to unload or load children. School buses will flash yellow lights to alert other motorists that they are about to stop to drop off or pick up children. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign are signals that the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off the bus. Stop your car far enough from a bus to give children plenty of space to enter or exit the bus safely. Passing a school bus on the right is illegal and extremely dangerous.
- Share the road safely with children walking to and from school. Do not block crosswalks when you are stopped at a red light, and always yield right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway in a school zone when warning flashers are blinking. Always stop as directed by road signs in school zones and by crossing guards. Watch out for children in school zones, residential areas, playgrounds and parks. Children are unpredictable and may not follow crossing rules.
- Be extra cautious around bicyclists. Maintain a distance of at least three feet when you are passing a bicyclist going in the same direction as you. Be extra careful when turning left in front of an oncoming bicycle or turning right across the path of a bicycle. Be very mindful of child riders who might turn in front of you without looking. Pay special attention in school zones and neighborhood areas, especially before and after school. This is often when bikes will be coming out of driveways or from behind parked cars or other obstructions.
Back-to-school time is a great time to review your home and auto insurance to make sure you have the right coverage. You need to be sure your auto insurance is up-to-date and will protect you properly as the risk of accidents increase during higher traffic times. In addition, consider the following:
- Has your living situation changed?
- Do you have a new teen driver?
- Do you have any children who will be going away to college?
- Are any of your children starting a new activity that requires expensive equipment, or could potentially cause an injury?
- Will you be hosting any school-sponsored activities within your home?
All of these are questions to ask during your back-to-school insurance review in order to determine if you have any new or additional auto, home or liability risks that need to be addressed.
What types of activities does your family do to prepare for the new school year? Have you reviewed your personal insurance policies lately?