Every fall, over 55 million children across the United States head back to school! As kids across Eastern New York gear up for a new school year, we want to help make sure the exciting trip back to the classroom is a safe one.
Whether your kids will be riding, biking or walking to school, we want everyone to arrive and return home safely. Go over these tips with the whole family, and make practicing them a part of your back to school plan!
For students who ride a school bus:
- Plan to get to the bus stop early and stand back from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive.
- Wait to board the bus until it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has signaled to get on.
- Tell children they should only board their bus – never an alternate one.
- Always stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus or in the driver’s blind spot – the area from the front of the bus to about 10 ten feet in front of the bus.
For students who bike or walk to school:
- Walkers should only cross the street at intersections. Obey traffic signals and stay in the crosswalk. If possible, use a route with crossing guards.
- Never dart out into the street, or cross between parked cars.
- Parents should walk young children to school, along with children taking new routes or attending new schools, at least for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Arrange for older kids to walk to school with friends or classmates.
- When biking, always wear a helmet and ride on the right, in the same direction as the traffic is going. (Helmets help prevent head injuries. Make sure your child wears a helmet any time he/she is on wheels — whether it’s a bike, scooter or skateboard.)
- In case of extreme weather, make sure to have a back-up transportation plan.
- Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly (typically for children ages 8-12 and over 4’9”) and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
- If a teenager is driving to school, parents should mandate that he/she use seat belts. Never use your cell phone to text or make calls, and avoid eating or drinking while driving.
WHAT DRIVERS SHOULD KNOW
Please stay alert, obey traffic signals, and avoid driving distractions, especially during back to school season. Kids are excited and they may not necessarily have safety first in their minds. Make sure you know what the yellow and red bus signals mean. Be aware that more children will be out and about, and slow down – especially in residential areas and school zones.
There’s a lot that parents can do to help make going back to school a great experience. To keep kids safe, parents should also make sure their children know their phone number, address, how to get in touch with their parents at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult and how to dial 9-1-1. Remind children not to talk to strangers or accept rides from anyone they don’t know.
Do you have any top back-to-school safety tips we haven’t covered here? Share your best strategies for safety, and have a fun-filled and safe school year! For more, check out these posts from SAFE KIDS, the American Academy of Pediatrics, AAA, and SafeNY.