School is now back in session for most of the school districts around Harris County. This means children will be walking to-and-from schools in the early morning hours and late afternoon. Harris County Department of Education’s Center for Safe and Secure Schools Director Julia Andrews offers tips to drivers to prevent accidents this school year. “It is so important for drivers to slow down and pay attention when children are present- especially before and after school,” Andrews said. If you’re dropping off: • Do no double park; it blocks visibility for other children and vehicles. • Do not load and unload children across the street from the school. • Carpool to reduce the number of vehicles at the school. Sharing the Road with Young Pedestrians • Do not block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic. • In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection. • Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign. • Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas. • Do not honk or rev your engine to scare a pedestrian, even if you have the right of way. • Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way. Sharing the Road with School Buses • Never pass a bus from behind or from either direction if you are on an undivided road- if it is stopped to load or unload children. • If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop. • The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus. • Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks. According to the American School Bus Council, passing vehicles cause an estimated two-thirds of school bus loading and unloading fatalities. “By exercising a little extra care and caution, drivers and pedestrians can co-exist safely in school zones,” Andrews said. Source: HCDE