With fall in the air and children heading back to school, it is time to adjust your driving habits with safety in mind. It is also time to remind your kids about safely walking, biking, and riding in cars and buses to and from school.
Parents Central at safercar.gov—a service of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)—has a useful set of back to school safety tips for students and drivers.
According to NHTSA, 19% of all children ages 5 – 9 who were killed in traffic crashes in 2010 were pedestrians. If your child is age 10 or younger and plans to walk to school, you must accompany him. Show him how to cross the street properly using the look left-right-left technique. Make sure he understands the rules for crosswalks and how to interpret traffic signs and walk signals.
As a driver, you must pay extra attention to children walking to and from school, especially during the before and after school hours. Be aware that you may be unable to see children behind shrubs, cars, buildings and other obstructions.
In 2010, 18 percent of bicyclists injured by motor vehicles were 14 years old and younger. If your child will bike to school, she needs a properly fitted bike helmet and a good understanding of traffic rules. It is a good idea to ride along with your child the first few days of school or practice the route before school starts so you can be sure she knows how to navigate the traffic patterns, signals and so on.
Again, drivers must be extra cautious for more bicyclists on the road during the school year, especially before and after school. Bicyclists, too, can dart out unexpectedly from behind cars, buildings and other obstructions. Be on the lookout!
Riding the Bus
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, school buses are the safest way for your child to get to and from school every day. But, children need to sit down and obey the rules of the bus. And they need to know how to stay safe when they are boarding or getting off the school bus. The school bus danger zone is 10 feet in front, 10 feet behind and 10 feet on each side of the bus. Teach children to steer clear of the danger zone and not to stand close to the bus where the driver is unable to see them.
Cars, too, must be aware of school buses. Like trucks, they have limited visibility in certain areas and may not see pedestrians or other cars. Never drive too close to a school bus, and remember that if a school bus stops to let children out, you must stop too. It is illegal to pass a school bus that is loading or unloading children.
Riding in the Car
We all probably feel safest in our own vehicle, yet car crashes are the number one cause of death for children aged 3 to 14 according to NHTSA. Children riding in the front seat of a car are 40 percent more likely to be injured in a crash. Kids aged 12 and younger should ride in the back seat, and should always wear a seat belt. Make sure your kids sit still and behave in the car so they do not distract the driver.
Remember, when school starts there will also be more vehicles on the road in the morning and during afternoon dismissal times. Drivers must be extra cautious and should adjust their travel times in the morning and afternoon to accommodate increased traffic. Exceeding the speed limit in order to get your children to school on time is never a good option. Instead, give yourself plenty of time to get to school and work.
In all of these cases, parents should remember to always set a good example for their children, whether walking, biking, driving or taking public transportation. Follow the rules of the road, respect other drivers and pedestrians, avoid distractions and drive defensively in order to get to your destination safely.
If you do get into a traffic accident this school year, be sure to call us right away. We can help you start the process of filing a claim and can help you get your vehicle repaired as soon as possible. Don’t forget to review your auto insurance at least once a year to make sure that you have the right coverage for your needs. If you will have a new teen driver this school year, call us right away. We can add your teen to your policy and make sure that you get any discounts that you are eligible for.
What do you do to make sure your children stay safe on the way to and from school? How do you teach them the rules of the road?