It’s back-to-school time and that means you’ll probably find yourself driving through busy school zones a lot more often. It’s important to keep in mind the dangers these congested areas pose for both pedestrians and drivers and to prepare accordingly.
There were nearly 6,000 pedestrian fatalities in the United States in 2017, marking the second year in a row at numbers not seen in 25 years, according to a Governors Highway Safety Association report. One trend that may attribute to the rise is the growing use of smartphones, and distracted driving, walking or cycling as a result.
When you’re behind the wheel and in a school zone, or in an area with children walking and biking to school, follow these five simple tips to keep yourself and those around you safe.
Be extra watchful at intersections. Not paying attention to traffic signals, such as flashing school zone or crossing signals, is a major area of concern when it comes to pedestrian safety and distractions.
Always come to a full stop at stop signs and crosswalk warning signs and be sure to look both ways before pulling through. Remember, pedestrians have the right away, so beware of individuals crossing at the last second.
Be ready for jaywalkers. People don’t always use crosswalks and you need to be ready to react if someone steps off the sidewalk, especially if they are distracted.
If you see a bicyclist with headphones, exercise caution. They may not be able to properly hear what’s going on around them, including oncoming traffic.
While driving, don’t engage in distractions yourself. Put your phone away, refrain from playing with the radio and avoid doing anything that takes your attention off the road. In order to drive defensively, you must remain alert at all times.
For more driving-related safety tips from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, as well as advice on preventing slips, trips, falls and overexertion this fall, visit BeSafeOhio.com.
Michelle Francisco works for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation as the Safety Council Program manager for the Division of Safety and Hygiene.