By: Johna Autencio 

It’s that time of year again! Now that school is back in session, it’s important that we continue to stay safe on the roads. Whether you’re a driver, cyclist or a pedestrian, we’ve got a few tips on how to do so:

1.    Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

Prevent yourself from getting into an accident by staying away from distractions. Avoid using your cell phone, iPod, reaching for items in the passenger seat(s), eating food and even turning back to speak with your passengers in your vehicle are examples of distracted driving. If it’s an urgent matter, safely pull over and turn on your hazard lights to alert the other drivers near you.   

2.    Obey the rules of the road.

The roads will be pretty busy during the first week of school, as parents, children, crossing guards and bus drivers are getting back to their scheduled routine, so always follow the speed limit, check your blind spots and use your signals when necessary. This rule applies to cyclists and pedestrians as well. Cyclists should keep mind of the speed they’re riding, while making sure to always be aware of their surroundings. As for pedestrians, they should make sure to check both ways before crossing the street.

3.   Plan ahead.

Prepare yourself for the day and plan your route ahead of time so you know where you’re going and what to expect on the road. Keep track of oncoming traffic through televised news outlets or radio.

4.  Stay cautious.

Pay close attention to your surroundings. Always make sure that you and your passengers check your mirrors and what’s around your vicinity before you get out of the car. Also consider being cautious while the car is moving, especially in school zones. Some vehicles even have the “Safe Exit Assist” feature to prevent accidents.

5. Don’t forget about the cyclists.

Cyclists are equally at risk on the road as much as a driver is. There have been many cases where cyclists (or other road users) have ridden into a motor vehicle’s door, has swerved to avoid the vehicle or has been struck by a door that was opened quickly by a person who was in the vehicle and failed to check for oncoming traffic. This is called “dooring.” To help prevent a cyclist from getting serious injuries or sometimes death, don’t forget that they’re on the road with you, especially in areas that have bike lanes. A feature like the “Safe Exit Assist” definitely prevents this kind of accident from happening for cyclists as well.

6.   Never drive impaired.

Please be responsible and make the right decision to not drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Also consider that strong medication or lack of sleep can affect your ability to drive. At the end of the day, everyone just wants to go home safely.

With the brand new school year, there’s going to be more frequent pedestrians, drivers and cyclists on the road and sidewalks again. Please be mindful of this and always remember to stay alert and stay safe.