school safety

With back-to-school time comes a reminder for school-zone-specific safety tips! Here are answers to seven of the most common questions professional drivers have when it comes to safe driving during the school year.

1. When must I stop for school buses?

You must stop on an undivided roadway whenever a bus has its yellow or red lights flashing or has its stop arm extended. You also must stop on a divided roadway if you're heading in the same direction as the school bus. Passing a stopped school bus is against the law in all 50 states.

2. How far should I stop behind a school bus?

Stop at least 20 feet behind the bus. This gives children the room they need to move to, from and around the school bus.

3. Do I have to slow down in a school zone even if the start of school is delayed?

If yellow traffic signals are flashing in a school zone, you must obey school zone laws no matter what. Drive the posted school zone speed limit. Obey traffic officers and crossing guards. Stop for children and pedestrians no matter where they cross – whether it's at a posted crosswalk or in the middle of a school zone.

​4. What times of day have the most school bus traffic?

Expect heavier than normal traffic in cities and neighborhoods. Plan for congestion at key school opening and closing times, usually early in the morning and mid-afternoon. Use extra caution before dawn or in inclement weather, times when visibility is worse.

​5. Are school zones the only areas I should worry about?

No. Remember to keep all crosswalks clear. Also, children are unpredictable. They may walk or run across the street from between two parked cars. They may ride a bicycle, scooter or skateboard on the side of the road or in the street. Stay alert and distraction free. Avoid turning the radio, texting, talking on the phone, eating or doing anything other than driving.

​6. How can I avoid school bus traffic?

Look at GPS data prior to your route. Avoid neighborhoods. Choose highways and interstates instead.

​7. What other safety tips should I take this school season?

Watch for an increase in the number of student drivers on the road. Look for bus stops and other areas where children might gather. And be patient. Never honk your horn at a bus or a child trying to cross the street; it could cause an accident.

Warmer weather means commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers will be dealing with crowded streets and highways. Since warmer weather also brings out more bicyclists, pedestrians and children at play, professional drivers must use extra caution. Use these 7 tips to share the road safely with bicycles, pedestrians and children.

1. Remember that bicycles are vehicles. Cyclists are asked to follow the same traffic laws as cars and trucks, so show them the same respect you would another driver. Yield to them as directed at stop signs, stop lights and intersections. Always give bicycles at least three feet of clearance before passing and watch for cyclists when you're getting in and out of your truck.

2. Be cautious making left and right turns. You know your tractor-trailer needs to make wide right-hand turns. Pedestrians, cyclists and children at play may not know this so take extra caution when making any right-hand turns. The same is true for left-hand turns—always look for pedestrians or cyclists before crossing traffic.

3. Watch crosswalks. Pedestrians have the right-of-way in crosswalks. If you're traveling through a neighborhood with crosswalks, drive slowly and be prepared to stop. Remember that on average trucks traveling 65 mph need two football fields to come to a complete rest, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

4. Know your limitations. Because your truck sits high, you may not see children at play or cyclists. They may be hidden by your truck's blind spots, or they could be playing behind your truck.

5. Stay extra-alert between 6 – 9 p.m. That's when more than one-fifth (21%) of fatal bicycle-motor vehicle crashes happen, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. July and August run the highest risk for these types of accidents.

6. Slow down. Children don't only cross the street using crosswalks. Cyclists don't always use reflectors or wear brightly colored clothing. Pedestrians don't always use flashlights when walking at night. Reducing your speed will help you be ready for anything.

7. Don't drive distracted. Busier roads mean more potential for danger. So never call, text or email while driving. And never drive after drinking alcohol. This is against FMCSA regulation.