As students in districts across Michigan return to school from summer vacation, the Insurance Alliance of Michigan is reminding drivers to turn off their cell phones and keep their eyes peeled for children walking and biking to and from school, and to obey posted speed limits in school zones.
“Just as students get back in the school routine, so too should drivers who may have gotten out of the habit of watching for children in crosswalks, on bicycles and boarding or exiting a bus,” said Pete Kuhnmuench, executive director of the Insurance Alliance of Michigan. “Oftentimes, children don’t use crosswalks to cross the street and instead will walk between parked cars or stopped traffic. There are more distractions than ever before for drivers on the road, which is why it’s critically important to watch for children as they travel to and from school.”
Michigan schools stagger start dates, meaning some students are returning to the classroom this week, while others won’t start until Aug. 27 or after Labor Day.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), on average, 131 people die each year in school-transportation-related-crashes. Fatal accidents were most likely to happen between 6 and 8 a.m., when children are on their way to school, and 3 to 4 p.m., when children are coming home.
Drivers should also remember to watch for stopped school buses, according to Kuhnmuench.
“When the stop sign is extended and red lights are flashing, motorists should not pass a school bus under any circumstance
s,” Kuhnmuench said. “Instead, drivers should stop at least 20 feet from the bus and proceed only when the red lights are no longer flashing.”
Passing a school bus when it is stopped is punishable by a fine ranging from $100 to $500.