As the end of summer draws near, children are back in school and our roads get more congested with school buses, parents taking their kids to school, and children of all ages walking and riding their bikes to and from school. It's important for us to be aware of this, especially in school zones.
Every day in the U.S., more than 40 kids get hit by a vehicle while walking – that’s 15,000 children a year. Protect your children by making sure kids are always aware of their surroundings, with no texting while walking allowed. Teach children to use a cross walk; look left, right and then left again before and while crossing; and to make eye contact with drivers. Use sidewalks, not the road when walking; if a sidewalk isn’t available, then walk facing traffic. Be especially vigilant around parking lots and driveways.
If your kids ride the bus, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration suggests teaching kids to:
- Stay five steps away from the curb
- Always wait for the bus driver to tell you when to board.
When you drop off kids at school, the National Safety Council says:
- Know your school’s drop-off and pick-up rules
- Don't double park, it blocks visibility for children and vehicles
If you're driving behind a bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind a car. It will give you more time to stop once the yellow lights start flashing. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children. If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop. Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks.
If you have children in school, The American Red Cross advises knowing the school's emergency plan. Once you know and understand your school's emergency plan you can develop a family emergency plan so everyone will know who to contact and where to go if something happens during school hours.
These are just a few tips that will help keep you and your loved ones safe in the hustle and bustle of a new school year and beyond!