Summer is soon coming to a close, and as our little ones prepare to return to school, it’s worth taking a moment to refresh their knowledge of pedestrian safety. Busy school intersections, street crossings and stationary and moving vehicles can all create safety hazards for kids. Preparing your kids with some basic pedestrian safety tips can help make their daily journey to and from school safer and more enjoyable.
Teaching Basic Skills
Teaching children proper street crossing procedures is essential to helping them develop awareness of their surroundings and improving their safety. The CDC and Safe Routes to School offer a wealth of resources designed to teach youngsters essential skills for walking to and from school safely, such as coloring books, route planners and videos. Among the basic child safety lessons they recommend include the following.
Kids should be taught to only use designated crosswalks, such as at traffic lights or marked school crossing spots, says the CDC.
According to Safe Routes to School, a green light does not mean it’s safe to walk — it means you should look for cars first, and only then begin crossing.
Teach kids to look left-right-left before crossing, and to continue doing so while they cross. Kids should remain alert for cars turning on red, according to Safe Routes to School.
Just because you can see the driver, he or she may not be able to see you. Make certain the driver can see you before you cross, says Safe Routes to School.
If walking in the dark — such as in early morning or evening hours — wearing reflective clothing or carrying a flashlight is important for visibility, says the CDC.
Bus and Vehicle Safety
In general, says SaferCar.gov, school buses are the safest means of transporting kids to and from school. But even school buses can pose hazards to kids while they are boarding, disembarking or crossing streets. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NM2] has an entire page dedicated to child school bus safety full of useful tips and resources for parents & kids. They and SaferCar recommend kids understand the following:
Keep your distance from the bus. If you must cross in front of it, use the sidewalk to walk at least 10 feet (five giant steps) in front of the bus before crossing, and be sure the driver sees you first. When disembarking, step onto the sidewalk and at least 10 feet away from the bus before continuing, says the NHTSA.
Never walk behind the bus — and never play near the bus. It can begin moving at any time, says SaferCar.
If you drop something near the bus, tell the driver instead of picking it up yourself, says SaferCar.
Other vehicles, including parked ones, can pose threats, too, says WellnessJunction. Kids should never enter the street from behind bushes or shrubs or between parked or moving vehicles. Not only can parked vehicles begin moving at any time, but cars and greenery can both make kids less visible to oncoming traffic.
Most importantly, says the CDC, kids should understand that moving vehicles are always to be avoided — even if they’re moving slowly, such as in a school parking lot. Kids should walk on sidewalks or clearly marked walking routes away from moving vehicles.