All around the country, teachers, parents and students are preparing for a new school year. Part of that preparation includes reminding students to practice safety when walking or riding their bikes to school; however, students aren’t the only ones who need that reminder. It’s important for truck drivers and motorists alike to be more cautious than ever around schools and buses. We sat down with Wesley (Wes), a J.B. Hunt truck driver for nearly 25 years, to learn about best practices to keep in mind this school year.
Wes’ passion for safety was recently recognized when he was named a Team Captain for the Arkansas Road Team, an outreach program of the Arkansas Trucking Association dedicated to teaching and modeling safe driving to students throughout Arkansas. He is the first J.B. Hunt driver to serve as a Team Captain. Keep reading for tips for driving in school zones and the ways J.B. Hunt equips its truck drivers with tools to support them on the road.
Be on the Lookout
When driving through neighborhoods or school zones, prepare for children walking or cycling to school, crossing the street, and exiting or entering vehicles. Check twice when approaching an intersection for children approaching in a blind spot. According to Wes, slowing down and looking everywhere is crucial to maintaining safety in school zones.
“Look everywhere. Look from side-to-side, look [around] the cars that are parked on the curb … slow down.”
Smith System® Driving
J.B. Hunt provides driver training using the Smith System® of safe driving techniques. For Wes, the rule of allowing a 7-second minimum following distance while looking ahead 15 seconds is something we should all should follow.
“That’s about as good a tool as there is, in my opinion … If you can have time to get ready to react to whatever happens, that’s super valuable in my opinion.”
While in school zones or navigating morning school traffic, this tip can not only help prevent collisions but also pedestrian accidents. Young children may not always be aware of traffic and their surroundings – proactively watching for unpredictable actions could save lives.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that watching for children walking or cycling to a bus stop is crucial during the morning hours, especially around neighborhoods. These tips from the NHTSA on recognizing a school bus that is boarding or un-boarding children can help prevent tragedy:
- Learn and obey the school bus laws in your state, as well as the “flashing signal light system” that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions.
- Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
- Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate the bus has stopped and children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop-arm is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.
Preparing your route ahead of time will help you prepare to respond safely to school bus stops, traffic or delays along the way.
“Trip planning, giving yourself that space that you need to react, those are some of the most important things I think you could do,” said Wes.
Safety is a priority at J.B. Hunt, and by working together, we can help keep our drivers and our roads safe this school year!
Ready to begin a career of safe driving with J.B. Hunt? Give us a call at 1-877-791-9458 or fill out this short form to get started today!