September is represents a fresh start, and with school buses back on the road and kids on their bikes. Here are some back to school safety tips for parents.
Is Your Child Walking To School?
Make sure they use the sidewalks and keep off the roads.
This may sound obvious but kids are kids and it’s common to see them walking on the road in subdivisions. While a subdivision road may not be the 401, enough people are struck each year to show that pedestrians must stay off ALL roads.
If there’s no sidewalk, always walk facing traffic. If you walk with traffic, motorists can see you, but you can’t see them. When you face them, you can establish eye contact with approaching motorists and perhaps you’ll have time to compensate for dangerous driving.
Never cross a road from between two parked cars. It’s harder to see traffic coming and motorists can’t see you.
Lose the earbuds. Never let your child walk outside with earphones in of any kind. I know this is a tough one to enforce, but it’s an important one. When your child is competing against rushing morning commuters to make the green, they need all their senses focused on their surroundings.
I’d recommend that you do a dry run with your kids to refresh their safety skills and make sure they know the route before school starts.
Is Your Child Biking To School?
There’s the law, and then there’s what’s realistic. The law states that all bikes must ride in traffic. I don’t know about you, but I have two under ten years of age and there’s no way I’m putting a bike with training wheels in traffic! Generally this means that my boys don’t ride their bikes to school.
When the bikes do come out, we ride together, on the right, in single file. If you’re going to cross the street as a pedestrian, you’d be off the bike.
Make sure that your child’s helmet is properly fitted and secured properly. I see a lot of kids with their helmets pushed back on their heads. This is dangerous. The helmet needs to cover the forehead so that it’s protecting your child’s frontal lobe.
Finally, teach your child hand signals and courtesy.
Riding the Bus To School
Teach your child to stand away from the curb when waiting for the bus. Three giant steps is ideal.
Most accidents involving kids and school buses or motorists happen when the child is exiting the bus.
First, just because the bus has its stop sign out, it doesn’t mean that every motorists will pay attention. Particularly motorists coming from the opposite direction who aren’t expecting to see a trail of 6 year olds crossing the middle of the road.
Make sure your child pauses and looks carefully both ways before crossing. They should never trust that the stop sign is enough. Next, make sure that your child walks about ten feet in front of the bus before crossing. When a small child passes in front of a bus a foot from the grill, the bus driver can’t see them. Here’s a four step system you can teach your children: Step ten feet out, make eye contact with the bus driver, look both ways, then cross.
When In Doubt Around A School Bus, Stop
A lot of this is common sense but we all know that common sense is in short supply.
A word to motorists: When in doubt around a school bus, it’s best to just stop until you know what it’s doing. Sure, impatient motorists might honk at you, but let their obnoxiousness slide off your back till you’re sure you can proceed safely.
Never –ever- try to rush by a school bus before it puts out the stop sign. Have you never seen a kid zip off the school bus and be across the road before you can say ‘watch out’? I have. Heck, I used to BE that kid and it’s only because of quick acting and careful motorists that I survived!
As motorists, we musts assume that every kid is that kid and take extra precautions around school buses. Being in the ‘right’ won’t ease your conscience if you hit a child so let’s make sure that never happens.