Parents know that one of the busiest parts of the back to school routine is getting kids out the door and off to school in the morning and home safely at the end of the day. Whether putting your children on the bus, driving them to school, or letting them walk or drive themselves, these common-sense school safety tips will help make your life a little less hectic.
If you’re a parent who drives your children to school, you have to negotiate school traffic safely in addition to following the rules of the road:
- Be mindful: Watch for pedestrians, especially children who are walking, biking, or waiting at bus stops.
- Drive sensibly: Obey the posted speed limits, do not pass other vehicles, change lanes, or make U-turns while driving in a school zone.
- Familiarize yourself with bus signals:
- Yellow flashing lights indicate that a bus is preparing to stop, and that motorists should begin slow down.
- Red lights and an extended stop sign mean that the bus has come to a stop and children are getting on or off the bus. At this time, drivers travelling in both directions must remain stopped until the lights turn off and the stop sign is back in place.
- Avoid distracted driving: Do not text and drive and use a hands-free device.
As they get older and school safety requirements gradually decline, your kids may not need you to get them to and from school in the morning, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see them out the door or know when they get home. With home surveillance systems that can be monitored through a computer, smartphone, or tablet, parents can watch their kids get home—and even unlock the doors remotely if someone forgets their key.
For inexperienced drivers, back to school means increased freedom—and increased responsibility. Teens are often surrounded by distractions and have to learn how to get themselves to school on time and to do it safely. Teen drivers can prepare themselves by familiarizing themselves with these school safety tips:
- Put down the phone: Teendriving.com reports that in a recent poll of drivers ages 16–19, over 50% admitted to texting while driving. Taking your eyes off the road to look at your phone for even a split-second could result in a serious accident. Many states have laws against using a phone while driving for this reason. Never text and drive, and always use a hands-free device if you need to make a call while driving.
- Pay attention to driving: A recent study by the National Safety Council showed that 14.6% of accidents involving teen drivers were a result of their attention to passengers in the car. For newer drivers, placing a limit on the number of passengers in the car helps reduce the likelihood of distractions.
- Buckle up: Make sure your teens wear their seatbelt and make sure that any passengers in the car buckle up, as well
- Know the rules for driving in school zones: Obey posted speed limits, do not pass other vehicles, change lanes, or make U-turns.
- Don’t rush: Accidents happen when drivers ignore basic school safety tips and are in a hurry! Make sure there’s plenty of time to reach the destination and find parking.
- Secure your car and its contents. Before getting out of the car, make sure any valuables are stored out of sight. And don’t forget to lock it!
- Practice driving with parents: According to the National Safety Council, the more time teens spend driving with their parents, the more likely they are to avoid a crash.
For kids who ride the bus:
- School Safety first: Arrive early at the bus stop and keep your kids in sight and away from the road while waiting.
- Wait to stand: When getting on or off the bus, children should wait until the driver comes to a full stop before moving towards the door.
- Respect the driver: Kids should be respectful while riding the bus by staying in their seats, keeping their arms and heads inside the windows at all times, and staying calm and quiet.
For children who walk or ride their bike:
- No shortcuts: Children should take the same route every day, and go directly to school or directly home.
- Travel in groups: Ideally, children should travel to and from school together.
- Follow the rules: Teach children to obey traffic signals, to use crosswalks, and never to cross the street from behind parked cars, etc.
- Stay alert: When travelling to and from school, kids should be looking and listening to their surroundings—not distracted by phones, games, or wearing headphones.
For the last school safety tip parents should make sure children have backpacks that have sturdy, padded straps, and are never more than 10% of their body weight, according to American Occupational Therapy Association, as heavy backpacks can cause shoulder and back pain.
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