Slowing down and driving safely near schools

School patrol roadsign, day.

Published 9 April 2021
Last updated 12 April 2021

We explore the importance of managing your speed near schools. Learn how to spot children stepping into the road and get some great tips on driving near school buses.

You may have noticed that the schools have gone back. Yes, the tell-tale signs are all there: stressed parents bundling their kids into the car, an increase in rush-hour traffic and the reappearance of school buses that stop in odd places to pick up and drop off their young passengers.

Och aye the school

To help raise awareness of safe driving near schools, police in Scotland have started making regular speed checks. Read about a primary school in Inverness, where 24 drivers were arrested for speeding during a single lunchtime. This is an astonishing statistic when you consider the facts: if a child steps out 12 metres away from a car that’s being driven at 30 mph, the driver will not have much time to think and brake and the car will still be travelling at about 27 mph at the point of impact!*

Back to school

So, how do you make sure that you drive safely near schools? Well, it probably will not surprise you to learn that safe speed and hazard perception become more essential than ever. To help you think about this, we’ve come up with a few valuable tips

  • The more knowledge you have of what’s happening around you, the more awareness you’ll have of potential hazards. Look for school signs and signals such as the one on in the picture above. Slooooowww down as you approach the school and be on the lookout for children.
  • You should also watch out for school crossing patrols (lollipop ladies/men). You must obey their signals. Where the location is particularly dangerous, two alternating flashing amber lights give advance warning of the crossing point. Oh, and remember, do not overtake when you’re approaching a school crossing!
  • You should, of course, stay within the speed limits wherever you are, but remember speed limits are not a target to aim for – they’re the maximum speed allowed when the conditions are suitable. You would not consider driving at 60 miles per hour on a twisting rural lane even if the limit was, well, 60 miles per hour. In the same way, speed limits around schools may be 30 mph, but it might be wholly inappropriate to be driving that quickly – particularly if parents have stopped to allow children to get out and the road has become congested with slow-moving traffic.
  • Look well ahead and keep your speed down!
  • Not all students arrive at school on foot or in mum’s (or dad’s!) taxi. Many will catch the school bus, which means you have to be extra careful when driving near them. If your route takes you past stationary school buses, remember that children – or, in fact, anyone – might step out into the road from behind them. Slow down and look for visual clues, such as groups of children on the pavement ahead of you. Be prepared to react quickly if a child suddenly steps out into the road and do not allow yourself to be distracted by your phone or the radio.

Further lessons

Write down those key tips and repeat them until you know them inside out. Anyone who fails to recall them perfectly gets a detention! OK, maybe not – in fact we’ve got a better idea. If you want to learn more exciting stuff about safe driving (and that’s why you’re here, right?), pop over to the Safe Driving for Life shop and pick up a copy of The Official DVSA Guide to Driving – the essential skills, the perfect guide to staying safe at each stage of your driving life.

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