As kids and parents get back into the swing of school, it’s important to keep safety in mind.
Drivers should remember that as the new school year begins, children will be walking, crossing streets and maybe even fooling around a bit on their way to school.
Parents should take the opportunity now to talk with their children about getting to and from school safely. Here are some tips from Constable Care to make the start of the 2017 school year a safe one:
Make safety part of the conversation
- Talk with your kids about safety and going back to school. If possible do a practice run before schools starts so your child is familiar with the process.
- Remind children not to talk with strangers or anyone that offers a lift home unless it has been prearranged with yourself.
- Reinforce with your children that they should avoid walking or riding bikes behind school buses and other dangerous blind spots.
- If you are collecting your child from school, advise them where the pick-up point will be and the safest way to get to you. This could include using a crossing and not running across the road.
- If your child is riding to school ensure they wear bike safety equipment including helmets.
- Tell your child to always cross the road at crossings or traffic lights and to look both ways before crossing.
- Don’t talk on your phone or send text messages while you’re driving. Apart from the safety concerns, it’s important to practice what you preach — don’t text and drive.
School Zone driving safety tips
- Be on the lookout for school zone signals and ALWAYS obey the speed limits.
- Always slow down for school busses that are loading or unloading children.
- Watch out for school crossing guards and obey their signals.
- Be aware of and watch out for child ‘hot spots’, such as around schools, near bus stops and bike lanes, sidewalks, in the streets, in school parking lots, etc.
- Never pass other vehicles, make a U-Turn or change lanes while driving in a school zone.
- Unless licensed to do so, never use disability parking, emergency vehicle lanes or spaces to drop off or pick up children at school.
- Expect the unexpected.
Riding your bike to school
- Check with the school to make sure your child is allowed to ride their bicycle to school. Some schools do not allow students to ride bicycles to school until they reach a specific grade.
- Make sure your child always wears a bicycle helmet! Failure to wear one could result in a traffic fine. Furthermore, in the event of an accident, helmets reduce the risk of head injury by as much as 85 percent.
- Obey the rules of the road; the rules are the same for all vehicles, including bicycles.
- Choose the safest route between home and school and practice it with children until they can demonstrate road safety awareness.
- If possible, try to ride with someone else. There is safety in numbers.
Walking to school
- Leave early enough to arrive at school at least 10 minutes prior to the start of school.
- Use the same route every day and never use shortcuts.
- Go straight home after school. Do not go anywhere else without permission.
- Always use public footpaths and streets when walking to school.
- Demonstrate traffic safety awareness and pick the safest route between your home and the school, and practice walking it with your children.
- Try and walk to school with other students. There is strength in numbers.
- Teach your children to recognize and obey traffic signals, signs, and pavement markings.
- Only cross streets at designated crosswalks, street corners and traffic controlled intersections.
- Always look both ways before crossing the street and never enter streets from between obstacles like parked cars, shrubbery, signs, etc.
- Always walk and never run across intersections.
- Avoid talking to strangers. Teach your children to get distance between themselves and anyone who tries to approach or make contact with them.
- If a stranger does approach your child, make sure they know to immediately report the incident to you or a teacher.
- Teach your children to never get into a vehicle with anyone, even if they know them, without your permission.
School bus safety
- Make a habit of arriving at the bus stop at least five minutes before the scheduled arrival of the bus.
- Make sure your child stays off the street and avoids excessive horseplay while waiting for the school bus.
- Be sure the bus comes to a complete stop before getting on or off.
- When riding the bus, make sure your child understands they must remain seated and keep their head and arms inside the bus at all times.
- Do not shout or distract the driver.