Now that school is back in session, it’s important to observe safety practices before sending your children on their way. Whether your children walk, bike, or take the bus, make sure they’re familiar with the family rules for getting to school safely. Make a checklist and review it with your children. These ideas can get you started.
Walking to School
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number one leading cause of death in children ages 1 to 19 is unintentional injury. To avoid mishaps on the road, discuss these rules with your children:
- Always walk on the sidewalk. If you’re required to walk on a road because there’s no sidewalk available, always do so while facing traffic.
- Stop, look, and listen before crossing the street. Look to the right and left twice to check for incoming traffic. Listen for approaching vehicles. Walk briskly to the other side of the road. Always use a crosswalk when available.
- Never try to beat traffic. Don’t run out in front of a moving vehicle. Wait until you can pass safely, even if it means it’ll make you late.
- Parents should do practice walks with their children before letting them try the journey on their own. Talk about any obstacles and how to handle them on your practice runs.
- During the school year, the city often hires crossing guards to help children get to school safely. Make sure your children know that crossing guards often wear brightly colored vests or sashes to distinguish themselves. Children should never go anywhere with or follow any adult they don’t recognize. If a stranger approaches your children on the street, you should teach them to yell for help or to run and find a trusted adult as soon as they can.
Biking to school can be fantastic exercise, and it cuts down on commute time. If your children want to bike to school, teach them about these bicycle safety guidelines and precautions:
- Always buckle your helmet securely before leaving. The helmet should be age-appropriate, and the buckle should rest snugly under the chin. If your child’s helmet makes contact with the ground in a bike accident, you should replace the helmet.
- When biking, children should follow the bicycle safety rules of the road. This means biking with traffic (on the right side) and obeying traffic signals. When it’s time to cross the street, walk your bike across – don’t ride it.
General Bus Safety
If your children prefer to take the bus to school, there are still safety considerations. Talk to them about these measures:
- Tell your kids to stay at least six feet away from the curb. In a child’s terms, this equals three very large steps.
- If your children need to cross the street to get onto the bus, have them cross at least 10 feet in front of the bus. They should always be able to see the bus driver, who will tell them when it’s safe to cross.
Teen Driver Safety
According to the National Safety Council, teen driving accidents spike every September when it’s time to go back to school. Talk to your teenagers about following these safety rules on the road:
- Tell them to keep their eyes on the road at all times. Distracted driving is one of the most significant contributors to auto accidents in the United States. Have them store their cell phones in the glove compartment.
- If possible, restrict your teens from having passengers in the car until age 18.
- Advise them to keep both hands on the wheel at all times, as this ensures better control. Position hands at 10 and 2.
Review these safety principles with your children and teens frequently. With a little prevention and common sense, the whole family can enjoy a safe back-to-school transition.