Washington, DC – As students across the country head back to school, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is reminding parents and their children to refresh their knowledge on getting to and from school safely. Even if your kids have already walked out the door for the first day of classes, it’s not too late – safety must be the first lesson of every new school year.
Riding the School Bus
School buses are the safest way for children to travel to and from school. However, there are dangers when children are boarding and leaving the bus.
Over the last decade, nearly two thirds of school-age pedestrians who were fatally injured in school-transportation-related crashes were struck by school buses or other vehicles when getting on or off a school bus. Teach your child to always play it SAFE:
- Stay five steps away from the curb.
- Always wait for the bus driver to tell you when to board.
- Face forward after finding a seat on the bus.
- Exit the bus when it stops, look left-right-left, and take five steps away from the bus toward the curb.
Walking to school is great exercise and gets kids ready to face their studies. Children under 10 years old should be accompanied by an adult or someone who will make sure they walk safely. Teach your child to always:
- Use the sidewalk whenever possible, and if there isn’t a sidewalk, walk on the edge of the street facing traffic.
- Focus when walking near traffic – this is no time for horseplay.
- Use crosswalks whenever they are available to cross the street.
- Look left-right-left before crossing any street.
Kids love riding their bikes, and it can be a fun, quick way to get to school. Be sure to do these simple things to keep your bike ride safe:
- Always wear a properly fitted helmet and securely fasten the chin strap.
- Ride in the same direction as traffic and follow traffic signs and signals.
- Stay in the bike lane whenever possible.
- Use the sidewalk appropriately and keep an eye out for other pedestrians.
- Never use electronics while riding – they are a distraction.
For some teens, back to school also means the newfound freedom of driving. Research tells us that teens are the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of a fatal crash. Texting is clearly a dangerous distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds on average, and at 55 mph, that is equivalent to driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. In 2015 alone, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Keep these things in mind when driving to keep your ride safe:
- Have a safe driver behind the wheel.
- The car shouldn’t move until everyone is buckled up.
- Use appropriate car seats and booster seats for young passengers, and remember: every child under 13 must ride in the back seat—no exceptions.
- Finally, remember that the phone stays down when you’re driving!
A Safe Journey To and From School
Whether you’re talking about school subjects and new teachers or shopping for supplies, make safety a central part of your back-to-school conversation with your child. With the start of every new school year, remember that the conversation about safety never gets old.
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