THE ROAD TO SAFETY: BACK TO SCHOOL TIPS

By Amy Howell Hirt
The Road To Safety
Across the country, kids are heading back to classes. Whether your child is taking a bus for the first time, walking to school with friends or venturing out as a teen driver, there's no time like the present to discuss road safety for children. Check out our back to school transportation safety tips for kids:

Walking to School
Review the basics with your child and address modern-day distractions:
  • Always look left-right-left before crossing a street, even if a friend or classmate is already crossing.
  • Always walk on the sidewalk, and cross the street at crosswalks, when available, or at street corners, where motorists are more likely to expect a pedestrian.
  • Never attempt to cross a street between parked cars, where drivers might not see pedestrians.
  • Limit the use of headphones and ear buds, which can block the sound of traffic and other potential hazards. Gadgets should also be put away. According to "Walking Safely," a 2012 study on pedestrian safety from Safe Kids USA, "the death rate among older teens is now twice that of younger children." The hypothesis for this increased number of pedestrian injuries among teens is distraction due to smartphones and other hand-held devices.
The Road To Safety

Biking to School
Get your child in the habit of strapping on a helmet before hopping on a bike, and review safe biking practices:
  • Know where it is legal to ride on the sidewalk versus the street.
  • On the road or sidewalk, keep to the right side and travel in the same direction as motor vehicle traffic.
  • Come to a complete stop before crossing a street.
  • When approaching a vehicle at a four-way stop, wait for a signal of acknowledgement from the driver before continuing.
Taking the Bus
If your child is riding the bus to school, remind him or her of the safety rules.
  • When waiting for the bus, stand at a safe distance away from the street.
  • When crossing a street to board a bus, remain on the sidewalk until you can see, and be seen by, the bus driver.
  • If you drop something in front of the bus, do not bend over to pick it up—the driver might not be able to see you. Instead, alert the driver.
Driving to School
Automobile accidents are the leading cause of teen deaths in the U.S., according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Driving to school can be particularly dangerous, given rush-hour traffic and the possibility of distractions caused by passengers. Remind teens how to stay safe, focused and alert as a passenger or driver:
  • Don't eat, drink or use a smartphone while driving; avoid distractions in general to keep a safe driving environment.
  • Limit the number of passengers. This is especially important for drivers licensed less than a year. The crash rate per mile driven is twice as high for 16-year-old drivers as it is for 18- and 19-year-old drivers. Additionally, a 16- or 17-year-old driver's risk of death per mile driven "quadruples when carrying three or more passengers younger than 21 (and no older passengers)," according to the AAA Foundation. Some states have restrictions on the numbers and ages of passengers that teen drivers are allowed. Be sure you know your state's teen driving regulations.
  • Emphasize the importance of always wearing a seat belt as a passenger or driver, whether traveling a half-mile down the road or across town. Twenty-five percent of teens surveyed for a study from Safe Kids Worldwide admitted to not buckling up on every ride. To make sure a newly licensed teen is driving safely, ride along with them for 30 minutes every week, for at least six months.
These basic road safety practices can go a long way toward helping your child get back to school safely and responsibly. We'd love to hear about the back to school safety rules that your family follows, tell us in the comments below.


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