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Back to School 2016The end of summer is drawing near, which means the invasion of the big yellow buses is about to start. It also means Baltimore drivers are likely to see more congestion on the roads, from teachers coming back to work and an increase in student pedestrians alike. This leads to a greater chance of being in an accident yourself, or of your own children being seriously injured by another driver.

What can you do as a driver and a parent to ensure everyone is safe on the roads?

  1. Learn and follow the laws. Know when to stop and when to proceed slowly around buses, and teach your children to do the same. Maryland’s Motor Vehicle Administration provides a list of the rules, as well as safety tips to follow, along with illustrations. Be aware that school zones often have decreased speeds, and you must yield to children in a crosswalk even if they do not have a crossing guard with them.
  2. Keep your eyes on the road. Distracted driving causes accidents every day. Children can be unpredictable, so it is crucial that you pay attention while you drive. It can be easy to miss a child darting out of a crosswalk or across the street if you are fiddling with the radio, or trying to check your text messages. Avoid distracted driving and keep yourself and the children safe.
  3. Be aware of your surroundings. When there are children getting on or off a bus, or crossing to a bus stop, keep your eyes on them at all times. When it doubt, wait it out: it is better to know that the road is clear before you start driving again. We recommend compensating for the slowed traffic by leaving a little earlier each morning, or by using an alternate route (when possible) that avoids school zones.
  4. Be careful where you park. The National Safety Council reminds us that most schools have specific drop-off procedures for their students, which you should review before the school year begins. As a general rule, however, do not double-park or drop children off across the street from the school.
  5. Keep an eye out for kids on bikes and skateboards. You can find a summary of Maryland’s bicycle laws here, though the main takeaway is this: if you are in a car and someone else is on a bike, you are likely to be held liable if an accident occurs. Make sure you are following the letter of the law when you share the road with cyclists. If your child rides or skates to school, make sure he or she is wearing a helmet, and review the rules of the road (and the sidewalks) before school starts.
  6. Buckle up. While school buses may not be required to have seatbelts, drivers and passengers in cars and trucks have to use them; it is the law. Make sure you and your children are buckled up. You may find you have to stop short if a child runs into the street, or if a car hits the brakes in front of you.

The beginning of a new school year brings changes and excitement, and we want everyone to be as safe as possible. If you or your child does sustain an injury in an accident with a bus or another passenger vehicle, you may have legal options available to you. Plaxen & Adler, P.A. has been one of Maryland’s premier auto accident injury firms for more than 30 years. To speak with an experienced Baltimore bus accident lawyer about your needs, please call 410-730-7737, or fill out our contact form.

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