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4 Back-to-School Lessons in Safety All Parents Need to Learn

Photo: Courtesy of JJ Thompson

Families are putting away their beach towels and dusting off their backpacks. Whether your son or daughter is going to school for the first time or dreaming of graduation day, it’s a good time to revisit some safety lessons.  

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more school-age pedestrians are killed during the hour before and after school than any other time of day, and distraction is often the reason.

1. Keep your head up and phone down.

Most students have never known a life without cell phones. In fact, according to a Pew Research study, 24 percent of teens say they are online “almost constantly.” Distracted walking is on the rise, resulting in thousands of injuries every year.

But how do you pull kids away from their phones?

Families can create a contract — detailing their expectations regarding when and where phone time is allowed — and have their children sign it. Some wireless providers and apps utilize technology to enforce texting limits during certain times of the day or night. And be sure to set a good example for your children by not using your phone while walking or driving. Children will copy your behavior and set boundaries following your lead, whether you realize it or not.

2. Opt for the bus.

The risk of death or injury while traveling to and from school is lowest when riding on a school bus.  You are 70 times more likely to get to school safely when traveling by bus than by a car, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  

There are some important safety behaviors that kids need to observe on each and every trip. Teach them to remain seated and calm while the bus is in motion. If there are seatbelts on the bus, they should buckle up, just like in the car. And finally, most injuries occur when they are approaching or exiting the bus, so look out for cars that are operating around the bus.

3. Slow down — especially in school zones.

All drivers can help make sure our kids make it to school safely. Slow down in school zones, and wait when the stop arm of the bus is extended. Never try to pass a bus when children are getting on and off. Finally, many communities require that drivers put away their cell phones in school zones, because no call or text is worth injuring or killing a child.

4. Don’t expect drivers to see your child.

Although drivers are required by law to stop for a school bus loading or unloading passengers, they often don’t. Encourage children to make eye contact with drivers to ensure the driver sees them, and always use caution when crossing the street. At intersections, younger children should be accompanied by an adult or take advantage of locations with a crossing guard.

Whether you’re a student, a parent or a road user, we could all benefit from a refresher lesson in traveling safely. A little care can go a long way in keeping each other safe.

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