Traffic Safety Reminders Issued As Kids Head Back-to-School

As kids nationwide prepare to head back-to-school over the next few weeks, federal highway officials are encouraging parents and caregivers to make sure children are aware of safe practices when traveling to and from school, whether it be taking the bus, walking, driving or riding a bike. 

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a set of school transportation safety tips on August 20, which are meant to help millions of children heading back to school have a safe trip each day.

Although school buses are described as the safest way for children to commute to and from school, nearly two-thirds of school age pedestrians who were fatally injured in school transportation related crashes were struck by school buses or other vehicles after departing the vehicle.

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NHTSA officials recommend that parents and caregivers who send their children to and from school on school buses teach them to always play it SAFE:

  • Stay five steps away from the curb
  • Always wait for the bus driver to tell you to board
  • Face forward after finding a seat on the bus
  • Exit the bus only when it is stopped and instruction is given by the bus driver.

For children who walk to school, the agency recommends parents never let a child under 10 years of age walk without an adult or someone who will make sure they walk safely. Parents are encouraged to teach their children to always use the sidewalk when possible. If one is not available they should walk on the edge of the street facing traffic. Children should also be taught how to approach and follow traffic signal instructions at a cross walk, and to never text while walking on a street or crossing an intersection.

Parents should ensure children riding bicycles to school have a properly fitted helmet and they are taught to stay in bike lanes when available, and to never use electronic devices while riding.

For those old enough to drive themselves back and forth to school each day, parents should try to instill in driving age youths how serious operating a motor vehicle is and that it is a privilege. They should also make certain young drivers are aware of the dangers of distracted driving to discourage the behavior.

The NHTSA recommends that young adults driving themselves to school should be taught to always do the following:

  • Put cell phones down and focus on the road.
  • When using an electronic device for directions, set the destination prior to driving.
  • When you are a passenger, speak up if you see the driver using an electronic device, and offer to call and text for the driver.
  • Always wear a seat belt.

Young drivers may not understand the impact texting while driving could cause, and parents should explain that reading a text or taking your eyes off of the road for 5 seconds on average at 55 mph is the equivalent to driving an entire length of a football field with your eyes closed, creating a serious and potentially fatal scenario for other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

The NHTSA reports distracted driving accidents are on a several year increase, causing nearly 3,500 fatalities and 391,000 injuries in 2015 alone.


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