School has begun, which means neighborhood streets are busy with children walking or biking to or from school earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon. If you usually drive in a school zone at these times, it is vital that you are aware – and extremely careful – of school kids on the street and sidewalk. From 2007 to 2011, nearly 1,700 children in Chicago ages 5-18 were struck by a vehicle within a block of school. Here is what you as a driver need to do to avoid such an accident.
- Be ready for the unexpected to happen, as children may run out into the street without thinking.
- Stop completely and properly at stop signs, crosswalks, and when behind a school bus.
- Follow the speed limit, as going faster makes it more difficult to stop abruptly if needed.
- Do not use your cell phone or other electronic devices – they are not only distract you from what is happening on the road, but are also illegal to use while driving in the state of Illinois.
- Make eye contact with pedestrians if possible, so you know they have seen you.
- Notice the lights on the school bus: yellow flashing means the bus is preparing to stop, and red means children are getting on or off the bus.
- Leave plenty of space between you and the bus.
- If you can, take a route to your destination that does not go through a school zone.
Look out for school children as you would want other drivers to look out for your own. Have a wonderful, safe school year!
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