Back to School Car & Driver Safety

Have you noticed an increase in traffic lately? Does it seem like the whole neighborhood is having a meeting at the corner bus stop every morning? Have you heard the bells ringing? Yup, school is back in session! Bright yellow school buses are on the roads, parents and their kiddos are waiting at bus stops, children are skipping merrily (or maybe trudging along – LOL) through neighborhoods to and from school, crosswalks are extra busy again and school safety zones are back in effect.

We hope we don’t need to remind you to drive safely and keep an eye out for the little ones and teenagers, but it never hurts! And since there’s more to safe neighborhood driving than simply being aware, here are our top back to school driver safety reminders:

 1.    Don’t go around the bus! This should be a no brainer, but when you see the flashing red lights on a school bus – whether you are behind the bus or it’s in the oncoming lane – stop. Too often we see drivers ignoring this basic rule.

 2.    Be mindful of crosswalks! Always be courteous, stop and give the right of way to pedestrians waiting at a crosswalk. It is the law, you know. At this time of year especially, you should be on hyper-alert for the little tikes who are not always sure of when they can safely cross or older kids who may think they can beat an oncoming car. School crossings are also often monitored by another child who has earned this badge of honor. Didn’t you always want to be that kid? Well, they may be responsible for their age, but they’re still just kids. It’s up to us drivers to watch out for them, so give ‘em a brake!

With tip #1 and tip #2 all about stopping, we have to ask, when was the last time you checked your brakes? Which leads us to safety tip #3…

 3.    Check your brakes! 

Brakes are something most of us don’t give much thought to until they start squeaking or suddenly fail altogether. Yes, they can fail without warning! So, we suggest being proactive and plan for an annual brake inspection every September at the start of the school year, before the days get shorter and the rains return.

 Sherwood Auto Repair can give your car or vehicle a complete safety check-up and thorough inspection, and make the necessary repairs to keep you on the road!

 4.    Check your lights! 

Though we hate to admit it, the days are getting shorter and the rainy season is coming; but we’re not just talking about your headlights so you can see better. We’re talking about all the lights on your vehicle – headlights, taillights, emergency lights, reverse lights, blinkers. A thorough light inspection may reveal the need to replace fuses or replace bulbs. And if you have a broken light, taping it over with plastic isn’t good enough. Get it fixed!

 5.    Check your tires! 

This is right up there with checking your brakes. Worn treads, low tire pressure – these can make it difficult to come to a quick stop safely, especially on slick roads. Didn’t we already mention the rains are coming? And speaking of rain…

 There’s more to tire safety than worn treads or low pressure. We don’t sell tires, but you can come into Sherwood Auto Repair and we’ll tell you how much life may be left in your tires.

 6.    Replace your wiper blades. 

We like to be proactive about these things, so we always suggest taking care of your car and everything on it before it breaks. It’s pretty obvious when your wiper blades are no longer doing their job, but they can also break down in other ways – like snapping off mid-use while flying down the freeway (true story; we’ve seen it happen)! It’s just a good idea to check your wipers with the change of season and replace them regularly.

 7.    Check your backup camera, if you have one, or consider installing one if you don’t. We love back-up cameras! It goes without saying that school parking lots can be especially challenging, but cars backing out of driveways is a serious safety concern for children walking to school. If a back-up camera just isn’t an option, then make sure your rear windows and all of your mirrors are clean! Which brings us to safety tip #8…

 8.    Fix cracked or broken windows and mirrors! Visibility is clearly, no pun intended, a top priority in good driver safety. If you can’t see out, or behind your car, you can’t see the kiddos (or the parents, or the other cars…). Small cracks can also grow when the temperatures start to drop later in the season, so why wait? Take care of those repairs now, along with any other items needing attention on your vehicle, and you’ll be all set for the season.

And for those of you taking on carpool duties, shuttling not only your child, but their friends or neighbor kids as well, we commend you and have a few more safety tips to share…

  • Seatbelts – Make sure everyone is safely buckled up - always. If a seatbelt in your car isn’t functioning properly or has gotten stuck, get it repaired right away.

  • Booster Seats – Will any of the kids need a booster seat? Your seatbelts may work fine, but if they don’t fit the child, they become a safety issue. If a booster seat is needed for any of your smaller passengers, be sure to get this from their parents before agreeing to take their kids to or from school.

  • Emergency Contacts – Keep emergency contact info for the regular kids in your carpool in your phone and in your glove box. Sure, there will be the occasional extra friend, but you’ll have your regulars, and you should have their parent’s contact info.

  • Curbside Pick-up and Drop-off – The children in your carpool should always get in or out of your car on the curb side and never on the street side. You should also make sure they’re supervised or safely enter the school or their home before driving away.

  • Designated Pick-up Time and Place – Nothing is scarier than having unexpected no-shows when picking up someone else’s child. Confirm a regular time and place for pick-up and request to always be notified when someone’s child will not be needing a ride.

Personally, we would add a rule about no food or drink in the car, but that’s just us. Our main concern is the safety of you and your passengers. We’ll take care of your car’s maintenance. You take care of the rest and have a fun school year!