school zone driver safety

Get Your Drivers Back to Safety for Back to School

Posted by Stacey Papp

For parents with school-age children, August is a month that means one thing: the back-to-school chaos is high. Parents are either breathing sighs of relief and crossing off the calendar days like they’re prisoners marking their sentence, or sobbing about little Bobby growing up and leaving them (or maybe sobbing about their credit card statement after all the school supplies and new clothes they had to buy).

For fleet businesses, this means something else: the need to have drivers be extra careful. There are lots of kids out and about, from the old pros (kids who are street-savvy and confident about their school-day commute) to very young children going to school for the first time or kids going to a new school in a new area. It’s a driver’s responsibility – and the fleet and service managers’ –that the safe driving everyone should normally be practicing is really on point at this time of year.

Below are 8 tips that drivers should be following anyway, but it never hurts to give a reminder around this time, before the wheels on the bus go ‘round and ‘round:

•Always obey the posted speed limits in a school zone – no exceptions. In residential areas, and near playgrounds and libraries, it’s also a best practice to drive more slowly than you might on a busier commercial street. (Not only is this a good safety practice, but it can keep fuel costs down as well.)

•Look closely before turning, especially in neighborhoods and near schools. 

•If you see children on the side of the road, even if you are not in a designated school zone, slow down. Kids may run out in front of a vehicle without looking, and drivers must be able to stop quickly.

•Never pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk – there could be kids trying to cross that you don’t see.

•We all know it’s a drag to get stuck behind a school bus, but no matter how rushed you are trying to get to a job, don’t ever pass a bus if those red lights are flashing. Not only is it illegal, but you risk hitting a child getting on or off the bus. 

•Always allow extra time to get to a job if you’re driving during normal school bus drop-off/pick-up times. If you do end up stuck behind a bus, GPS can help reroute you a different way the next time it’s safe to turn (or pass, if it’s legal, such as when the bus is in motion and the two-way street is divided by a dotted white line).

•Some kids ride their bikes to school – so keep an eye out for bicyclists, too. Remember to check your blind spots, look twice when pulling out into a road or turning, and turn around in your seat and check the road to ensure you don’t open your vehicle door when a cyclist is coming.

•Minimize distracted driving. It just takes one second of not looking at the road for an accident to happen. Leave the radio alone, and for the love of God, America and apple pie, don’t text and drive.

It’s a direct reflection on the business if a driver is seen in a work truck with the company logo on it speeding through school zones or passing school buses dropping off kids – not to mention it puts the business at serious risk, increasing the possibility of tickets (and ergo, insurance) or accidents. 

Fleet tracking software gives fleet and service managers visibility into whether drivers are speeding – and, more importantly at this time of year, where they are speeding. Managers can get near real-time alerts about aggressive driving and speeding that let them take fast disciplinary action. Using a software with GPS capabilities lets drivers plot out the optimal route based on near real-time traffic information, minimizing the likelihood they could be stuck behind a bus (and if they are, letting them find a new route on the fly).

Safety is a major priority for every fleet business, and using fleet software to help minimize business risk and boost safety for both drivers and school kids doesn’t just deserve a passing grade – it’s worth a gold star. 

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Just how important is driver safety? Check out our article on how you can enforce safety and make your bottom line happy.