Back to School Safety Tips for Adult Drivers and Child Pedestrians

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Summer is just about over, and children from across the country are getting ready to head back to school.  In a new report ostensibly geared toward the state of Arizona, the local AAA branch offers tips to parents that are designed to help ensure the safety of their children as they embark upon the new school year.  However, the tips are appropriate for just about anyone in the country, and as such, they’re being shared right here.

The first thing that parents and guardians can do is prepare their kids before they even head out the door.  This starts with something as simple as pulling out a map and figuring out a route that would be safest for your child if he or she is walking to school.  The route should utilize those crosswalks with guards available to direct traffic, and kids should make the lowest amount of street crossings as possible.  The child should also avoid areas such as empty lots that are secluded from busier thoroughfares.  Kids should walk with a friend if possible, and they ought never accept a gift or ride from someone they don’t know.

If your child is riding a bike, similar rules to walking should be followed.  The street shouldn’t be crossed if there’s a crosswalk, and crossing guards’ directives should be heeded whether on foot or on a bike.  Helmets should be worn by any child taking a bike to school.  What shouldn’t be worn are earbuds playing music, as such a device makes it hard to hear potential dangers such as an oncoming vehicle.

If the child is simply being dropped off at school, parents can modify their own driving habits to increase safety.  When approaching a school zone, slow down to 15 miles per hour, even if the speed limit is 25.  AAA’s Foundation for Traffic Safety says this small decrease in speed reduces the chance of a fatality in the event of a collision by almost 67%.  And depending on your community, it’s very likely that disobeying speed limits in school zones will result in the incursion of a fine that’s much higher than in regular roadways.

By the same token, parents should abstain from using a cellphone, texting, or engaging in any other distracting behavior that would imperil their ability to safely operate an automobile.  Doing so not only makes it safer for children in the area, it teaches children the proper driving habits for when they eventually get behind the wheel.  And if you encounter a school bus with red lights flashing and a stop sign extended, do not pass it.

Finally, make sure your child knows who to call in the event of an emergency.  Kids should have a way to reach their parents directly, and they should be taught to dial 911 if something drastic happens.