Published August 2013

Follow the Leader

Tips on getting your kids to school safely — and driving safely around schools

As summer days turn into school nights, so too do parents and children return to their daily commutes to and from school. No matter your family’s transportation arrangement, keep your kids safe this school year by following these tips:
If your child is walking to school, make sure he or she:
  • Follows a path you’ve mapped to school or the bus stop. The path you set should have the fewest street crossings and avoid sparsely populated areas.
  • Walks only on the sidewalk, and crosses the street only at crosswalks.
  • Avoids walking in front of, behind, or between cars parked along the street.
  • Obeys the crossing guard. Teach your child to follow instructions, remain a safe distance from the curb, and cross only when the guard indicates it’s safe. 
If your child is biking to school, make sure he or she:
  • Wears a helmet. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that a helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent.
  • Dons florescent or brightly colored clothing, even when riding during the day.
  • Obeys all traffic signs, signals, and lane markings.
  • Signals intended moves to others.
  • Looks carefully before proceeding past driveways or through intersections, where most bike/car collisions occur. If your kid rides a small bike that is low to the ground, consider attaching a safety flag to the bike to assist drivers in seeing your child. 
If you don’t have children, back-to-school is still a time to take extra safety precautions. More pedestrians, bicyclists, and drivers will be on the roadways at peak traffic times.
As you drive, keep in mind the following:
  • Drive no faster than 15 mph in a school zone or near areas where children are present. Fines double when “Stop When Children in Crosswalk” signs are present. School zones are no-passing zones.
  • Avoid distractions. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration research shows that taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds doubles your chances of crashing. With children racing about, it’s important to keep your eyes on the road.
  • Always stop for school buses that are loading or unloading students. It is illegal to pass a school bus with flashing red lights.
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