Post-Pandemic “Back-to-School” Safe Driving Guide *2021 Update

Is The Pandemic Going To Affect Driving Back To School When They Open?

This year with COVID-19, going back to school will look a bit different. For those children who will be going back to in-person classes, it will be essential to take precautions to ensure each trip is a safe one. Whether going to school as a pedestrian, bicyclist, bus rider, vehicle passenger, or a new driver, follow safety guidelines to avoid injuries.

Drivers also need to be careful because school children can be very unpredictable. They are easily distracted and can often run into traffic or out from behind parked cars. Rather than expecting them to look out for vehicles, looking out for kids is the best defense for drivers.

Although school buses are considered the safest transportation form to school, social distancing may reduce the number of children who can ride on buses and increase pedestrians, bicyclists, and private vehicle commuters to school each day. Children may also be walking in a single-file line instead of bigger groups, making it more difficult to see them crossing streets.

Back to School Safe Driving Tips

The school year can often mean increased traffic congestion. School buses and rideshare vehicles like Uber or Lyft are picking up passengers, kids on bikes are hurrying to get to school before the bell rings, and harried parents are trying to drop their kids off before work. This all occurs in one small parking lot when everyone is under a time crunch to beat the bell. It can be a recipe for disaster, and everyone must do their part to pay attention and keep children safe in school zones. It’s never more important for drivers to slow down and pay attention than when kids are present – especially before and after school. 

If your child is injured in a car accident, he or she has the legal right to be compensated. Schedule your free consultation with one of the California personal injury lawyers at Arash Law by calling (888) 488-1391.  ✏️ California 2021 Back-to-School Dates  

School Zone Driving Safety Tips

  • Be on the lookout for school zone signs. ALWAYS obey reduced speed limits and other traffic laws.
  • Always stop for school buses that are loading or unloading children.
  • Watch out for school crossing guards and obey their signals.
  • Watch out for children near schools, bus stops, sidewalks, in the streets, in school parking lots, etc. Be aware of where they are – children can sometimes move into the street without warning.
  • Never pass other vehicles while driving in a school zone.
  • Never change lanes while driving in a school zone.
  • Never make U-Turns while driving in a school zone.
  • Never text while driving in a school zone.
  • Avoid using a cell phone while driving in a school zone.
  • Never block emergency vehicle lanes when you drop off or pick up children at school. Unless you have a disabled parking placard or license plates, do not use the handicap spots or lanes. 

Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians

It’s not always easy to share the road with younger children. Unlike adults, who have spent years walking and driving, children don’t understand the rules of the road. They are also impulsive. This can lead them to make unpredictable movements. A few precautions go a long way toward keeping children safe:

  • Never block the crosswalk when you are stopped and waiting to make a turn.  This forces pedestrians to go around you, which could put them in the path of moving traffic.
  • Yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection in any designated school zone.
  • Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign. Follow any other directions the guard might indicate.
  • Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas
  • Don’t honk or rev your engine. Aggressive driving can lead to civil liability or even criminal charges.
  • Never pass a vehicle that has stopped to let pedestrians cross.
  • No matter who has the right of way, take care to avoid colliding with pedestrians or bicyclists in the roadway. 

Sharing the Road with School Buses

According to research by the National Safety Council, 95 people were killed in accidents involving school buses in 2017. The NSC also reports that most of the children who die in bus-related accidents are pedestrians between the ages of 4 and 7.

Here are some tips to safely share the road with school buses: 

  • Never pass a bus from behind if it is stopped to load or unload children. If there is a physical barrier dividing the flow of traffic, then traffic on the opposite side of the barrier may proceed. Otherwise, traffic must stop in both directions.
  • The area ten feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children. Stop your vehicle far behind the bus to allow passengers space to enter and exit the bus safely.
  • Be alert! Children often are unpredictable, and they cannot anticipate the flow of traffic the way adults can. 

Sharing the Road with Bicyclists

Bicyclists have unique responsibilities on the road. Adult bicyclists are expected to follow traffic laws and are often held to the same standards of reasonable care as drivers are. Children, however, are not expected to know the rules of the road as well as adults. Adult drivers must, therefore, be especially cautious of children riding bicycles. 

  • When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly. Leave at least three feet between your car and the cyclist. 
  • If a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction while you are attempting to make a left turn, wait for the rider to pass. This may take longer, but it reduces the risk of harm in one of the riskiest scenarios for bike riders. 
  • Watch for bike riders that might be turning in front of you without looking or signaling. Children, especially, have a tendency to do this.
  • Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars.
  • Check side mirrors before opening your door

Be Careful Around New Drivers

A new school year brings a surge of newly-licensed teen drivers, as well as younger college students with only a couple years of driving experience. Keep on high alert for new teen drivers – especially in or around high schools. Give them space to figure out their driving skills. Even if they’ve shown ability in driver training classes, they typically don’t have the skills that come primarily from experience. Gauging gaps in traffic, reading the general flow of traffic on roads, and situational awareness while driving in congested areas all come from driving experience. By slowing down and giving new drivers plenty of space, everyone can make it through school zones safely.

Teens and young adults should not take their driving responsibilities lightly. Like many states, California has adopted a graduated driver’s licensing program (GDL) for teen drivers. It restricts teens from nighttime driving and also driving with passengers.

This is due to insurance claims data, which has repeatedly found that teen drivers are at an increased risk of causing an accident at night and when there are passengers in the car. Follow the GDL restrictions in order to maintain your clean driving record.

Even when you are allowed to drive at night or carry passengers, you must be cautious. Never allow yourself to become distracted by passengers in the vehicle. Never text and drive. Never drive while impaired by drugs, alcohol, or prescription medication.

Parents can also take steps to help keep teen drivers safe.

AAA provides tips for teen drivers and advice on how to talk to kids about safe driving habits. Parents should start by evaluating their own driving habits. Setting a good example is one of the most important steps to helping a teen learn safe driving habits from the start. Parents should also set and enforce clear family rules for driving. Teens who drive recklessly or violate their GDL restrictions should not be allowed to drive. Parents must make it clear that unsafe driving habits will not be tolerated. By working together, teens and parents can establish good habits using safe driving technologies that will get everyone home safely. 

School’s Open – Drive Carefully

AAA first launched a back-to-school safe driving campaign in 1946. School’s Open – Drive Carefully was started as an awareness campaign to help reduce child pedestrian fatalities and injuries. AAA makes the following recommendations for drivers to help keep school children safe:

School-zone driving tips - California Back-to-School Safe Driving Guide

  • Slow down — Speed limits in school zones are reduced for a reason. A pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling at 25 miles per hour is nearly two-thirds less likely to be killed compared to a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling just ten miles per hour faster.
  • Come to a complete stop — Research shows that more than one-third of drivers roll through stop signs in school zones or neighborhoods. Always come to a complete stop, checking carefully for children on sidewalks and in crosswalks before proceeding.
  • Eliminate distractions Research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing. And children can be quick, crossing the road unexpectedly or emerging suddenly between two parked cars. Reduce risk by not using your cell phone or eating while driving, for example.
  • Reverse responsibly — Every vehicle has blind spots. Check for children on the sidewalk, in the driveway, and around your vehicle before slowly backing up. Teach your children to never play in, under or around vehicles.
  • Watch for bicycles — Children on bikes are often inexperienced, unsteady, and unpredictable. Slow down and allow at least three feet of passing distance between your vehicle and a bicyclist. If your child rides a bicycle to school, require that he or she wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet on every ride. Find videos, expert advice, and safety tips at
  • Talk to your teen — Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, and nearly one in four fatal crashes involving teen drivers occur during the after-school hours of 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

Los Angeles Injury Attorneys for Any School-Zone Accident

If your child has been injured in a school-zone car accident at school or somewhere close by, your family has legal rights that must be protected. It is important to be sure that your child’s medical and legal needs are both addressed. Call (888) 488-1391 or contact us online to schedule your free legal consultation at Arash Law. Our experienced school zone accident lawyers know how to protect your child’s right to compensation.

We prove the value of all losses children suffer after an auto accident. We fight hard to protect you from insurance company tactics and get fair settlement offers. When insurance companies refuse to make fair settlement offers, we file lawsuits and prove your losses to a jury. Don’t deal with the legal process on your own.


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DISCLAIMER: Information provided on this blog is not formal legal advice. It is generic legal information. Under no circumstances should the information on this page be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal action. Always obtain a free and confidential case evaluation from a reputable attorney near you if you think you might have a personal injury lawsuit.

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