The impending close to summer reared it’s ugly head earlier this week while dropping my daughter off at 6:30 AM for the first of her pre-season double session practices. That also dredged up images of the hundreds of school buses and thousands of parents transporting kids, not to mention the scores of recently licensed drivers that will soon be competing for our attention during the morning commute.
Combine these with the much needed repair work currently happening on our roads and a lack of planning on our part, and you have a recipe for, at best, a tardy arrival to work or speeding ticket. You can imagine the worst case . . .
While no injury or fatality is considered good, the frequency of school bus related traffic fatalities is relatively low. National Highway Statistics provides this brief summary of the stats relating to school bus crashes:
- Each year, approximately 800 school-age children are killed in motor vehicle crashes during the normal school travel hours (weekday mornings and afternoons during school months).
- Roughly 2% of the 800 children killed are school bus related while 74% occur in private passenger vehicles and 22% are the result of pedestrian or bicycle accidents.
What can we do to keep the grim reaper or trooper from the rear view mirror? Start with a good plan:
- Know your route – Be aware of any planned or current construction along your way. Using web resources such as Trafficinfo, Rand McNally, or a local city website can help identify areas where delays are likely.
- Leave early – Be sure to leave enough time to account for any known construction delays or school bus stops along the way. Usually 30 minutes is enough, but more may be necessary depending on where you live. If you get there ahead of time you can catch up on your email and text messages.
- Stay visible – Stop far enough back for the bus driver to see you in their mirror and use your hazards when stopped for a bus, giving notice to any drivers behind you.
- Avoid distraction – It’s not the phone, it’s the conversation. Refrain from using cell phones while driving in school zones or areas with children. The same goes for activities that distract the driver, such as changing CDs, looking at notes and reading maps.
The following sites provide additional tips and strategies for avoiding tragedy on you morning commute this fall: