Summer break is coming to a close already, and that means it’s time to pack the kids back to school for another great academic year. You may be busy shopping for school supplies, books, and clothes, but now is an excellent time to review some basic safety tips for you and your child to make sure that everyone gets to and from school safely.
Walking or Biking to School
You know your children best, and only you can make the call on whether or not your young ones are ready to walk to school alone. If it is their first time walking to school or you have just moved to a new and unfamiliar neighborhood, there are a few things that you should do to make their daily walk a safe one:
Make the trip together. Walk with your children the first time or two until they are comfortable making the trip solo. Assess any potentially risky spots together, and come up with a plan to pass through safely.
Locate any traffic signs and crosswalks. Make sure that your children know to obey the laws by following the appropriate traffic lights and signs.
Meet the crossing guards. Most schools have crossing guards nearby both before and after school. Be sure that your children can recognize the guards and obey their instructions.
Follow the sidewalks. Sometimes sidewalks are not available. If your children have to walk on a road without a sidewalk, make sure that they walk on the side facing traffic, so that they can see oncoming cars and get out of the way. Bicycles, however, should always ride in the same direction as traffic.
Buy bright clothes or backpack safety reflectors. In the early morning hours, and in the winter when the sun sets early, light-colored clothes and clip-on safety reflectors can help ensure that motorists see your children. For bicycling when the sun is down, a headlight is required by law.
Getting in the Car
Sometimes it’s a little too far to walk to school, or your child isn’t quite ready for the solo trip. Here are a few basic tips for both you and the kids to have a good car commute:
Wear safety belts. Buckling up seems obvious, but it can be overlooked when you are in a hurry. Be sure that everybody is wearing a seatbelt properly or is buckled into age-appropriate and properly fitting car seats. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, there were 638 children age 12 and under that were killed in auto accidents in 2013, and a stunning 38 percent weren’t wearing seatbelts. Make sure yours is on, too—of all of the people killed in car crashes that year, almost half were unrestrained.
Never pass a school bus that’s loading or unloading. If a bus is stopped for passengers to get in or out, its lights should be flashing and a red stop sign should be extended. It is both extremely dangerous and illegal to pass a bus with flashing lights and extended sign. You should always take caution around a stopped bus, even when the lights are not on, as children may be crossing nearby.
Be extra cautious in school zones. Obey the posted speed limits, and follow the direction of the crossing guards. Please remember that children are not always as aware of danger as adults. Be their “safety eyes and ears” to help prevent tragedy.
Do not use your cell phone while driving. Keep focused on the road, especially while in or approaching school zones. You can resume your legal cell-phone usage once you’re clear of areas where children are. Never text and drive!
Be Safe and Be Prepared
Sometimes accidents and injuries happen even when we have taken all of the precautions that we can. Be sure that the school has current contact information to get ahold of you in case of an emergency, and be sure your child knows who to call, too.
If you or someone in your family has been injured in an accident, consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you figure out what your next move should be. Steinberg Injury Lawyers are available to help when you need us, either by telephone at 1-800-350-8888 or through our online contact form.