As the fall season sends children back into the learning environment, this means the typical daily commute to and from school and all the normal dangers associated with traveling. Whether walking, riding a bike, riding the bus, or traveling by car, our children’s safety is always the top priority.
With the volume of traffic increasing to school zones after a long summer there is always the added confusion to commuters, bus drivers, and unprepared children. A statistic that should give us all pause is nearly 500 pedestrians under the age of 19 were struck and killed in 2013 after being hit by vehicles. The smartest thing that drivers and children can do is to stay aware of their surroundings and avoid becoming distracted.
- DID YOU KNOW? The hour before and after school has the highest rate of pedestrian deaths in the school-aged demographic, with the safest mode of transportation being the bus.
- DID YOU KNOW? In New jersey, children from age 4 to 8 commuting in a vehicle must ride in a booster seat secured with a standard adult seat belt at all times.
- DID YOU KNOW? According to Safe Kids Worldwide, teenagers are actually at a higher risk of being hit by a car when on foot than younger children due to the distraction caused by mobile devices, headphone usage, as well as other sources which divert their attention.
It almost goes without saying that is important that any child that travels on foot must be very aware of their surroundings, especially in school zones that are full of cars and buses that may not see them.
Make sure that you educate your young ones about safety in vehicles, on the school bus, riding a bike, or walking to prevent back to school injuries. You should also make sure that they know where to turn for help if faced with a dangerous situation.
SAFETY TIPS: Riding a Bike to School
- Check with the school to make sure that your child is allowed to ride their bicycle to school. Some schools do not allow students to ride bicycles to school until they reach a specific grade.
- Make sure your child always wears a bicycle helmet! Failure to wear one, especially in New Jersey, could result in a traffic citation. Furthermore, in the event of an accident, helmets reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85%.
- Wearing bright colors will increase visibility and therefore add an additional level of safety
- Obey the rules of the road; the basic rules are the same for all vehicles, including bicycles.
- Always stay on the right-hand side of the road and ride in the same direction as traffic.
- Be sure your child knows and uses all of the appropriate hand signals.
- Choose the safest route between home and school and practice it with children until they can demonstrate traffic safety awareness.
- If possible, try to ride with someone else. There is safety in numbers.
Safety Tips: Walking to School
- Leave early enough to arrive at school at least 10 minutes prior to the start of school.
- Use the same route every day and never use shortcuts.
- Go straight home after school. Do not go anywhere else without permission.
- Always use public sidewalks and streets when walking to school.
- Try and walk to school with other students. There is typically safety in numbers.
- Only cross streets at designated crosswalks, street corners and traffic controlled intersections.
- Always look both ways before crossing the street and never enter streets from between obstacles like parked cars, shrubbery, signs, etc.
- Always walk and never run across intersections.
- Avoid talking to strangers. Teach your children to get distance between themselves and anyone who tries to approach or make contact with them.
- Teach your children to never get into a vehicle with anyone, even if they know them, without your permission.
Back to School Safety Facts & Tips That Every Driver Needs to Know:
DID YOU KNOW? A 2009 study conducted by Safe Kids USA found that 1 out of every 6 drivers in school zones were distracted while operating their vehicle. In school zones you should never pass another vehicle, change lanes, make a U-turn, or go over the indicated speed limit for any reason.
DID YOU KNOW? People that text and drive are actually 23 times more likely to hit another vehicle, pedestrian, or object while behind the wheel, so you should never use a cell phone in a school zone.
SAFETY TIPS: Drivers
- Drivers should be aware of children walking to school or to the bus stop. Everyone can follow a few safety tips to help kids get to school safely.
- When backing out of the driveway, watch for children walking to school or to a bus stop.
- On streets without crossing guards, watch out for children trying to cross the street.
- Be careful on streets without sidewalks or streets with on-street parking. It might be hard to notice a child behind a car.
- Be alert. Children may dart into the street without looking.
- Never pass other vehicles while driving in a school zone.
- Never change lanes while driving in a school zone.
- Never make U-Turns while driving in a school zone.
- Never text while driving in a school zone.
- Avoid using a cell phone, unless it is completely hands-free, while driving in a school zone.
- Unless licensed to do so, never use handicap or emergency vehicle lanes or spaces to drop off or pick up children at school.
- Slow down.
Many of our attorneys at Lundy Law are also parents. We understand the worries and concerns that go along with sending our children to school. Avoiding accidents is the most responsible thing that we can teach our children. Unfortunately, accidents can still happen. If something does happen to you or someone that you love, remember this name 1-800-LundyLaw.