Back to School Time

Every year toward the end of August or early September, the time rolls around that all kids dread — back-to-school time. Even though you may be focused on the return of homework, you need to remember that going back to school affects other people's driving.

Depending on when you leave for school, there could be a lot more traffic than when you were practicing driving over the summer — not to mention changed traffic patterns or closed streets. Whether you're driving through school zones or getting stuck behind a school bus, here's how to plan for these things on your daily commute. And if you're still nervous about the whole thing, we recommend taking a driver safety course to help ease your fears!

Keep Your Eyes Open for Your Classmates

The biggest thing to pay attention to when you're on the road during the school year is that there could be younger students anywhere. Your classmates have their minds on lots of things, but sometimes, paying attention to their own safety isn't one of them. This is especially true with the prevalence of cell phones. Watch out for other kids crossing the street or boarding their school bus.

Watch for New Traffic Patterns

The school year also brings new traffic patterns to watch out for. Roads that normally have a speed limit of 25 mph or higher could drop down to as low as 10-15 mph in a school zone. These speed limits are strictly enforced, so follow them for your younger classmate's — and your wallet's — sake.

Neighborhoods may even shut down streets that have high foot traffic for those who walk to school. You might need to alter your route during school days.

Pay Attention to Other New Drivers

You and some of your fellow high school students may be lucky enough to drive yourselves to school, but this means there are more inexperienced drivers on the road. Some of your classmates may drive their friends to school, which is just asking for distracted driving to occur. Between friends, cell phones, and not having the experience, practice defensive driving when you're on the road before or after school to keep yourself safe from these potentially distracted drivers.

Stay Safe Around School Busses

The primary mode of transportation for students is the big yellow school bus. Buses have a bright yellow paint job to make themselves as visible as possible. While all states may have different laws involving driving around school buses, there are a few rules in common you need to follow:

1. If you see the bus flashing its yellow lights, it's preparing to stop to pick up students. Slow down and prepare to stop as well.

2. If the bus has its red lights flashing and its stop sign down, come to a complete stop and don't pass the bus until its lights stop flashing and its arm raises.

In addition to these laws, always keep your eyes open for kids running around near bus stops or running across the street if they're late.