It’s that time of year again! Time to kick off another exciting and fun-filled school year. Even if your kids have already walked out the door for the first day of classes, it is not too late to remind them how to get to and from school safely. Safety must be the first lesson of every new school year.
Tragically, from 2006 to 2015 there were 301 school-age children (18 and younger) killed in school transportation-related crashes. It is important to share a few simple tips with kids to help them stay safe when traveling to and from school.
RIDING THE SCHOOL BUS
School buses are the safest way for children to travel to and from school. However, there are dangers when children are boarding and leaving the bus. Over the last decade, nearly two-thirds of school-age pedestrians fatally injured in school transportation-related crashes were struck by school buses or other vehicles when getting on or off a school bus. Teach your child to always play it
- Stay five steps away from the curb.
- Always wait for the bus driver to tell you when to board.
- Face forward after finding a seat on the bus.
- Exit the bus when it stops, look left-right-left, and take five steps away from the bus toward the curb.
Walking to school is great exercise and gets kids ready to face their studies. Children under 10 years old should be accompanied by an adult or someone who will make sure they walk safely. Teach your child to always
- Use the sidewalk whenever possible, and if there isn’t a sidewalk, walk on the edge of the street facing traffic.
- Focus when walking near traffic – this is no time for horseplay.
- Use crosswalks whenever they are available to cross the street.
- Don’t use a phone or text while walking.
- Do not walk while using headphones. You need to be able to hear what’s going on around you.
- Always wear a helmet that is fitted and secured properly.
- Children need to know the rules of the road: Ride single file on the right side of the road, come to a complete stop before crossing the street and walk the bike across.
- Watch for opening car doors and other hazards.
- Use hand signals when turning.
- Wear bright-colored clothing
- Don’t block crosswalks.
- Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, and take extra care in school zones.
- Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
- Never pass a bus loading or unloading children on a two or three lane road. If you aren’t sure when you can pass a school bus that shows red flashing lights
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them to safely enter and exit the bus.
For some teens, back to school also means the new-found freedom of driving.
Research tells us that teens are the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of a fatal crash. Texting is clearly a dangerous distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds on average, and at 55 mph, that is equivalent to driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. In 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed, and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Keep these things in mind when driving to keep your ride safe:
- Have a safe driver behind the wheel.
- Make sure the car is well-maintained and all systems – brakes, lights, seat belts, seat adjustments – work properly.
- The car shouldn’t move until everyone is buckled up.
- Use appropriate car seats and booster seats for younger passengers, and remember: every child under 13 must ride in the back seat—no exceptions.
- Finally, remember that the phone stays down when you’re driving!