Safety for Parents Dropping Their Kids at School

Mother driving daughter to school

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Child safety should be the first and foremost consideration when determining how a child is dropped off and picked up from school. Parents should check with their child's school or childcare provider to learn child safety procedures and routines. Each year, tragedies are reported of children getting injured or even tragically killed by darting between cars, not using a crosswalk, or motorists simply not being observant enough.

Get Familiar With School Drop-Off and Pick-Up Practices 

If the curb says "No stopping, standing or parking at any time," that means for everyone. Look for where the school bus stops and stay clear of that path. If children are required to use designated crosswalks, don't walk your child across the middle of a street. If an area is designated for teacher parking only, then don't grab a space to drop off your child.

Discuss and Practice Safety Rules With Kids

If possible, take your child to the drop-off area and "practice" the procedure at an off-peak time. Walk him through what to look for, what to do, and what not to do. If crossing guards are utilized, explain their purpose and how they must wait for approval to cross. Familiarity and then repetition are the best guidelines for ensuring child safety all school year long.

Don't Break Safety Rules Because You're Late

Whipping your car around, getting your child to dash out of the car to reach the classroom before the school bell rings, or encouraging a "drop-and-dash" drop-off is the recipe for disaster in terms of child safety. You would rather your child receive a tardy notice than to be in an accident. Also, don't use your cell phone in a school zone. It is a major distraction.

Know the Traffic Rules in School Zones

Familiarize yourself with the various speed zones. Be aware of which side of the car your child sits, and consider positioning her to the side most convenient for exiting. If your child is in a "drop" situation, see if the child seat or booster seat is something he can put on or off safely; the same holds true for lap belts and shoulder harnesses.

Motorists should also re-familiarize themselves with the yellow school buses and changes in traffic flow and speed they bring. Drivers should be on the watch for school buses and know school bus safety rules. Parents of young drivers, especially those driving themselves to school for perhaps the first time this school year, should review the rules and warnings with family members.

Those big yellow buses transport our most precious commodity--our children--and bus drivers report that motorists need reminders about do's and don't's around school buses every fall. After all, motorists will be sharing the road with school buses during the hectic morning commute.

General Child Safety Tips Concerning School Buses

  1. When a school bus stops and flashes red lights, traffic approaching from either direction must stop before reaching the bus.
  2. Motorists should stop at least 20 feet from the bus. Buses can easily be identified by the signage indicating "SCHOOL BUS," the unique yellow/orange paint color, and the red lights on top. Remember that school buses come in many lengths and sizes. Daycare buses may also be in the vicinity of schools and areas for drop-off and pick-up and motorist caution must be observed around them as well.
  3. Be prepared to slow down and possibly stop whenever you see a school bus. Also, know that school buses stop prior to entering any railroad track, so be sure to follow too closely.
  4. Know that you must remain stopped for a school bus until the red lights stop flashing, or until the bus driver or police officer/traffic director directs you to proceed.
  5. In most cases, motorists must stop for a school bus even if it is on the opposite side of a divided highway. Check your state's motorist regulations to be certain of the laws governing school buses.
  6. Before proceeding, watch carefully for children on the side of the road and drive very cautiously until you are out of the drop-off area. Children have been known to dart across a street or not realize motorists are nearby in their excitement to go home.
  7. Become familiar with your neighborhood or community bus routes. Don't assume the routes and times will remain the same from last year. Because of student ages and needs, it is likely that the routes will be changed every year. If possible, avoid those routes at the time of the day of pick up or drop off of students. This will lessen your irritation from the constant stopping and starting, but not having a trail of cars behind a school bus adds to the safety of the children as well.​
  8. Remember who is on board a school bus. Police and school officials report absolutely crazy and irresponsible driving behavior on the part of some motorists in their quest to pass a school bus. Those passengers are precious children, and it's a high likelihood that bus routes and drop-off and pick-up zones are being monitored by law enforcement officials for any violators as well. So, when you're behind a school bus, take a deep breath, be patient, and appreciate that the children are being transported safely to school or child care settings.

What Else Can Parents Do in Terms of Motorist Safety?

Offer to help! There is no such thing as too much parental involvement at peak school times of the start and end of the school day. Parental involvement is valuable in helping to ensure all children start the school day safely.

Many schools and providers use either paid or volunteer crossing guards, sidewalk monitors, parent greeters, or even escorted drop-offs (where parents drive through a designated area, assembly-line fashion, where greeters open the car door and quickly get the child out and into the school).

If you can spare the time, help to do your part and volunteer. Parent-Teacher Organizations (PTOs) are often instrumental in child safety assistance, so see if your school has such a group and whether you can become part of it. Some volunteers also help to escort children walking or riding bikes home alone as an extra child safety precaution.

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