Summer is over, and school is in session. Even in Florida, the days are getting shorter, and those Fall holidays are approaching. As things transition from the dog days to the cooler ones, parents should make sure safety measures that might have fallen by the wayside are back on the agenda. One of those safety measures is making sure children get to and from school carefully and with caution.
Whether it is the first day of kindergarten for a little one or the last year of high school for a teenager, commonsense tips must be followed so the worst does not happen.
“It’s important to remember – and share with your children – some key tips that will help keep them safe and healthy throughout the school year,” according to the National Safety Council’s Back to School Safety Checklist. “Whether children walk, ride their bicycle or take the bus to school, it is vitally important that they – and the motorists around them – take proper safety precautions.”
Whether walking, riding a bicycle, hopping on a school bus or driving to school, attention must be paid to the dynamic surroundings. Traffic and weather can cause hazardous conditions that could cause injury or death. Here are some suggestions to heed:
Walkers should stay on the sidewalks at all times. If there are no sidewalks – many communities do not have them – walk on the shoulder facing oncoming traffic. Cross only at intersections with crossing guards. If an intersection has no crossing guard, stop, look and listen before stepping into the roadway.
“Parents: Practice walking to school with your child, crossing streets at crosswalks when available,” according to the National Safety Council, which also advises to avoid walking while texting or even talking on a cellphone, or while using earbuds.
Bikers should strap on a helmet – not just any helmet, but one fitted and secured properly. Bikers also should know the rules of the road, such as riding single file, with traffic, on the right side of the road. Similar to drivers, bikers must stop at stop signs and red lights. When crossing, it is a best practice to walk, rather than ride, bikes across an intersection. Using hand signals to indicate left or right turns or slowing or stopping can save a life, as can wearing bright clothing or a neon vest.
Bus riders should line up at least six feet from the point of the bus’s arrival, which usually is a curb, so the driver can see their presence. Wait to board until the driver gives the OK. Buckle up if seatbelts are available. Stay seated while underway. Do not get up to exit the bus until it has come to a complete stop. When exiting the bus and crossing a street, cross in front of the bus. Never cross behind the bus.
Drivers must be the most cautious of all because they not only face the risk of getting into an accident but also harming others.
“Teens crash most often because they are inexperienced,” according to the National Safety Council. “They struggle judging gaps in traffic, driving the right speed for conditions and turning safely, among other things. As your teen becomes a new driver, learn more about what you can do as a parent to keep them safe.”
Drivers must abide the speed limits, especially in school zines, and take care to not block crosswalks and yield to the pedestrian right-of-way. If a bus is picking up or dropping off children, all traffic should come to a halt a minimum of 10 feet from the bus until the bus resumes operation.
“Go over these tips with your kids before the year starts, and as gentle reminders as the year rolls along,” SafeStreetsUSA, an ADT authorized dealer, states in an article titled “8 Tips for Keeping Kids Safe to and from School.” “By the end of the year, you’ll have instilled some great safety habits in your kids, habits that will last a lifetime!”
The article notes, “Where you live and how your kids get to and from school will influence the kinds of safety and security measures you’ll need to take as the new school year gets under way. But do take those steps, this year and every year, to keep your child safe from harm, and train them in commonsense ways to protect themselves for that dreaded day when they’re no longer headed to school but out into the real world on their own, all grown up.”
Our firm has handled many terrible tragedies resulting from simple trips between home and school. We would like to see those end altogether.