Now that September is here, schools all over the country are back in session. Though the majority of your time behind the wheel is spent on highways and interstates, there will inevitably be times when you need to take an exit and navigate city streets. That’s especially true in large metropolitan areas, where you’re bound to drive near (or through) a school zone.
School zones present various hazards, including pedestrians, bike riders, school buses and more, so it’s important to pay special attention. Even if it’s been years since you last navigated your big rig through a school zone, it never hurts to refresh on these best practices.
1.) Follow the speed limit. A fully loaded semi-truck going 60 miles per hour needs about 370 feet to come to a complete stop. That’s longer than a professional football field! Obviously, when trucking through a school zone, you need to drive much slower, but the same concept applies. Transporting hundreds or even thousands of pounds makes braking difficult. The slower you go, the more time you have to react.
2.) Regularly scan all of your truck’s mirrors. School zones feature lots of moving pieces. There are cars, trucks and buses of course, but also school crossing guards, security staff, parents, and the list goes on. Take the time to constantly scan all of your truck’s mirrors, including the side and rearview mirrors. If someone is in a hurry, let them go around you. Be patient and take your time. It’s better to be slow and safe than it is to be sorry.
3.) Try to steer clear of schools in the morning and afternoon. You can’t always plan your route in advance, but thanks to tools like Google Maps, it’s becoming much easier. Before you load up your truck and hit the road, do a little bit of research. If you notice the directions take you off of the highway and near a school zone, try to plan accordingly. If possible, avoid driving through that area during the busiest times of the day (i.e., drop off in the morning or pick up in the afternoon).
There are also some general rules that the National Safety Council recommends following when driving through school zones. These rules include:
- Never honk or rev your engine to startle a pedestrian (even if you have the right of way).
- Never pass a bus or other vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
- Never block a crosswalk when stopped at a stop sign or a red light.
For additional safety tips regarding school zones, click here.