It’s back-to-school time, and that means an emphasis on child safety. Unfortunately, it’s only too common for kids to be injured as they make their way to school.
The greatest risk is to kids who walk or bike to school, and to school bus riders as they walk to or get on or off the bus. This is where a little extra vigilance on the part of drivers and parents can make a big difference. Here are some tips from Consumer Reports.
Drivers: Take extra care between 7 to 8 a.m. and between 3 and 4 p.m.
According to NHTSA, more child pedestrians are killed in these two one-hour windows than at any other time of day. If you are driving during these times of day, you need to be aware of child pedestrians and bicyclists.
Be careful backing out. Back-up accidents are extremely common, especially in vehicles without rear-facing cameras. If you can’t see whether there are kids in the immediate area, walk out to where you can see. Don’t even get in the car until you know where any nearby kids are.
Notice kids as you drive through the neighborhood. Children may be walking or riding their bikes, or just waiting for the school bus. Be aware that children have less impulse control than adults and may dart into traffic even if they have been told not to. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted.
Follow school bus safety laws — and don’t be impatient. When a school bus’s yellow lights are flashing, it is not an invitation to speed up and pass the bus so you don’t have to wait. Flashing yellow lights mean the bus is about to stop and let off passengers. You are required by law to slow down and stop.
When the red lights flash and the stop sign comes out, you must wait until all children have exited the bus and are safely out of the street. Remember that some kids may cross the street in front of the bus. Do not proceed until the stop sign is folded in, the red lights have stopped flashing and the bus begins moving.
Parents: Role-play how to bus safely
There are many things for kids to remember as they start school, and kids can easily become careless or distracted. It might be helpful to go through the entire process of getting to the bus, riding it, and exiting. Here are some good rules:
Be at the bus stop 5 minutes before the bus arrives. If you are late, do not run across the street to catch the bus. Stay out of the street and don’t approach the bus until it has fully stopped.
Never cross behind a bus because the driver cannot see you. Cross in front of the bus only when you are sure the driver sees you, and cross about 10 feet away from the bus itself.
While riding the bus, be safe and don’t distract the driver. If there are seat belts, use them. Stow your belongings under your seat and out of the aisles. Don’t get out of your seat until the bus has completely stopped.
Take care when exiting the bus, especially if you must cross the street. If you do have to cross, do so in front of the bus and only after you are sure the bus driver can see you. Approach the center line and then wait for the bus driver’s signal to cross the rest of the way. If you drop something outside the bus, tell the driver before picking it up.