Whether on foot, driving, riding the bus or pedaling their bikes, students need to know how to stay safe when going to and from campus. The public needs to exercise additional caution when the school year begins to watch out for the thousands of children attending class for the first time.
Walking to School
Pedestrian injuries are the second leading cause of unintentional injury related deaths among children ages 5-14. Experts recommend that children under age 10 never cross the street alone. Safety tips for parents include:
- Choosing the safest route between home and school and practicing it with children until they can demonstrate traffic safety awareness. The same route should be used every day. Shortcuts should be avoided.
- Teaching children to obey and recognize traffic signals and pavement markings. A flashing "walk" sign is not an automatic "go" signal, but rather a signal to check for traffic in both directions before crossing.
- Teaching children to cross streets at a corner or crosswalk and to walk—NOT RUN—across intersections.
- Emphasizing that children should not enter streets from between parked cars or from behind shrubbery. Such darting results in the majority of child pedestrian deaths.
Taking the Bus
Bus travel is one of the safest ways to travel to and from school, but injuries can occur. Some safety tips for riding the bus are:
- Having children arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes before the scheduled arrival of the bus. Children should stay out of the street and not horseplay.
- Urging children to remain seated on the bus at all times and not to shout or distract the driver. They should keep their heads and arms inside the bus at all times.
- Waiting for the bus to come to a complete stop before getting on or off. Children should be taught that the driver has a "blind spot", the area about 10 feet in front of the bus, and that they should not walk in front of the bus after getting off.
Bike riding is a favorite mode of transportation for children, but it can often be dangerous. Bicycle safety tips include:
- Making sure that children wear bike helmets at all times while riding. Head injury is the leading cause of death in bike crashes. Helmets can reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent, according to studies.
- Obeying the rules of the road. Children should know that the rules of the road apply to all vehicles. Bike riders ride on the right-hand side of the road in the same direction as other traffic and they must use appropriate hand signals.
- Choosing the safest route between home and school and practicing it with children until they can demonstrate traffic safety awareness.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of unintentional injury-related deaths among children ages 14 and under, according to the National Safe Kids Campaign. Some 75 percent of these crashes occur within 25 miles of home and 60 percent take place on roads with posted speed limits of 40 miles per hour or less. Important safety guidelines for parents include:
- Always using safety seats and/or safety belts correctly when driving or riding a car.
- Obey the drop-off and pick up procedures established by the school.
- Dropping children off as close to school as possible so they do not have to cross streets and making sure that children enter and leave the car on its curb side.