Did you know that more children are hit by cars near schools than anyplace else? The National Safety Council noted that most children who die in bus-related incidents are 4 to 7 year olds who are hit while walking. These children were hit by a bus or by a driver illegally passing a stopped bus. These accidents could have been prevented. Taking logical precautions is imperative to keep children safe. Not just in and near school areas, but in residential areas and all over the city. Be mindful of your local school times and take extra precautions before and after school hours.
Back to school is upon us, which means we are sharing the roads with parents trekking students to school, buses full of children, and kids biking and walking the sidewalks in a rush. The last thing on a child’s mind in the early morning before school or after a long day of learning is the roads full of vehicles mere feet away. Kids are in a rush, parents are in a rush, and you are in a rush. But following simple, yet important guidelines will prevent children from getting hurt or killed.
The following steps are daily habits to apply when driving that can help keep children safe:
- Slow down when children are present.
- Be alert. Children are often unpredictable, ignoring hazards and taking risks.
- If you are in a school zone, follow the speed limit guidelines. They aren’t just there to tick you off; they are there to keep kids safe.
- Take extra care in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas.
- Be extremely aware of driveways and behind parked cars. Children running or biking can appear out of these areas in an instant.
- Make it a routine to yield to pedestrians, even if you have the right of way. This is especially important near children who don’t know or follow road safety rules.
- Don’t honk or rev your engine at or near children. This can startle a child causing the child to trip and fall or crash their bike.
- Check your rearview and side mirrors before opening a door, driving, accelerating at a red light, and parking.
- Drive with your lights on if it’s dark or if any weather conditions exist such as fog, rain, and snow.
- Always use a blinker when turning and changing lanes.
- If you have a service vehicle or leave your vehicle unattended, do a complete 360 degree inspection of your vehicle. Check wheel wells, underneath the vehicle, and around tires to make sure a child hasn’t snuck or hidden somewhere.
- Leave five to ten minutes early so you don’t feel rushed on the road.
- Check your car to make sure everything is in top driving condition. Check that all your car lights and horn are working.
Parents can also follow some simple steps to ensure children are safe and aware. If you are a parent, talk to your child about road safety. From the time your child can walk until your child is an adult, communicating about road safety can save your child’s life. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. Nearly one in four fatal crashes involve teen drivers during the after-school hours between 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Set rules for your children. Talk to your child about using these rules at all times when walking, biking, skating, and any other time they are out on sidewalks and near streets. If you have a teen driver at home, create a list of expectations that your child must follow when driving. As a parent, expect yourself to model these behaviors as well.
- Use your blinkers to indicate you are merging, turning, and parking.
- Drop your child as close to school as possible, pulling your car up to the street on the same side as the school if at all possible.
- If you must drop your child across the street from school, get out of your car and walk your child across the street. If you cannot get out of your car, remain and watch until your child is safely on school property.
- Use hazard lights when getting out of your car, even if only for a moment, to alert other drivers.
Walking and biking
- Use sidewalks to walk or bike to school.
- Always use crosswalks to cross a street.
- Look both ways at least twice before crossing a street.
- Never run across the street; always stop before crossing so cars have a chance to see you.
Everyone is responsible for keeping children safe. Back to school is a crazy, busy, stressful time for parents, for schools, for children, and for drivers. Maybe you are a parent, maybe you aren’t. Regardless, all drivers must do their part to keep children safe. Avoid distractions and drive smart. No one wants to hit a child. Rushing, speeding, and being reckless isn’t worth a life or an injury. Spread the word to your fellow parents and drivers.
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