It’s hard to believe, but it’s already time to kick off another school year—and time to remind our children how to get to and from school safely. These suggestions, from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, will get your kids off to a great start.
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 waiting for the bus and when boarding and leaving the bus. Over the past decade, nearly two-thirds of school-age pedestrians who were fatally injured in school transportation-related accidents were hit by school buses or other vehicles while getting on or off the school bus. Teach your child to always play it SAFE:
- 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
If you live within walking distance of your school, walking to school is a great way to start the day. It’s great exercise and gets kids ready to focus on 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. If there isn’t a sidewalk, walk on the edge of the street or in the grass facing traffic.
- Stay focused and keep your eyes on the road when walking near traffic. It may be fun to play around with your friends, but goofing-off can prove deadly if you’re not careful.
- Use crosswalks whenever they are available to cross the street.
- Look left-right-left more than once before crossing any street.
Riding a bike
Riding a bike is a fun and quick way for kids to get to school or a friend’s house. Be sure to do these simple things to keep your bike ride safe:
- Always wear a properly fitted helmet and securely fasten the chin strap.
- Ride in the same direction as traffic and follow traffic signs and signals.
- Learn how to use arm signals to show when turning right or left.
- Stay in the bike lane whenever possible.
- Use the sidewalk appropriately and keep an eye out for other pedestrians. Be sure to call attention when passing a pedestrian.
- Never use electronics while riding due to distraction and so you can hear traffic around you.
Driving to school
If your teen is driving to school, riding with another teen or driving younger siblings to school, make sure you discuss safety rules:
- Always have a safe driver behind the wheel.
- Everyone must buckle up or the car doesn’t move.
- Use appropriate car seats and/or booster seats when driving younger siblings to school. Every child under age 13 must ride in the back seat. No exceptions.
- NO phone use while driving.
And for those of us driving to work or running errands, remember that when school is back in session, more cars and buses will be on the road. Watch out for stopped school buses and use extra caution around schools and bus stops.