As children head back to school, families are buzzing with getting school supplies together, meeting with new teachers and adjusting to new routines. Parents should prep their children for what to expect for the upcoming school year, including preparing them for safely traveling to and from school. In addition, every driver should be prepared to share the road and put children’s safety first. Here are some tips to share with your children, along with some safety reminders for all drivers as children head back to school.
Safety Tips for Safely Traveling to and from School
Riding the Bus to School
Practice walking to the bus stop with your child and show them the correct way to enter and exit the bus. Children should be shown where to stand while waiting – six feet from the curb or tell them “three giant steps” for better understanding.
Walking to School
Always walk on the sidewalk or walk facing traffic if a sidewalk is not available. Children should be taught to “Stop. Look left. Look right. Look left again.” before crossing the street to ensure cars are not coming.
Riding Bikes to School
Children should wear a helmet and bright colored clothing. Always ride on the right side of the road which flows with traffic (not against) and in a single file line.
Driving Your Child to School
Follow school zone speed limits and drop-off procedures. You may be in a hurry to drop off or pick up your child, but it isn’t worth risking the safety of those around you. Be patient and plan for extra loading and unloading time at the beginning of the school year as everyone is figuring out their new routines.
Driving Reminders to Keep Children Safe
All drivers should exercise caution and stay alert for children in residential neighborhoods, near playgrounds and parks, and within school zones. Children often are unaware of hazards and don’t fully understand the risks that surround them, so it’s our responsibility to be extra vigilant and create a safer environment by following driving etiquette and laws.
- If you’re driving behind a school bus, give yourself additional space than if you were driving behind a car. This gives you more time to stop once the bus lights start flashing. If yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, all surrounding traffic must stop.
- It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children. This applies to all 50 states, though the penalties vary.
- The “danger zone”, or area 10 feet around the entire school bus, is the most dangerous for children. Always stop far enough back to allow space for children to safely enter and exit the bus.
- Always stop when school crossing guards or patrol officers are holding up a stop sign.
It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the school year, but it’s important to review basic safety precautions with your children and evaluate your own driving habits regularly. Together, we can share the road and help keep children safe.
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