Summer is over. And everyone is excited about going back to school! Ok, not everyone! Some of us aren’t looking forward to those early mornings, getting everyone out of the house on time; with a lunch, and dealing with children with Fortnite withdrawal! Make no mistake, these next few days will be hectic as everyone gets familiar with the back to school routine. It’s one of the busiest times of the year – at home and on the roads. And while everyone is still getting used to the new routines, it’s important that we pay even more attention driving and getting to and from school.
Here are our top 10 tips for making sure back to school season is safe for everyone:
- Slow down in the school zones. Slow down in the school zone; even if you don’t see a posted sign! These speed limits exist to make sure children and other pedestrians make it to school safely. Don’t put lives at risk just because you are in a hurry.
- Be careful at crosswalks. Slow down when you see a crosswalk. If you see children approaching, prepare to stop. Before they enter the street, come to a complete stop and allow the children to cross safely. Proceed with caution only when the last child steps off the road onto the sidewalk. And remember, just when you think you’re in the clear, a latecomer may be making a mad dash to catch up to their friends. Double-check the crosswalk to ensure no one is running into the street out of nowhere.
- Watch for crossing guards. Slow down when you see a crossing guard; usually wearing a brightly colored vest and stop sign in hand. When they enter the road, come to a complete stop and allow the children to cross safely. Proceed with caution only when the crossing guard returns to the sidewalk and lowers the stop sign.
- Stay behind the bus. Back to school season means more and more school buses. Keep a safe distance behind the school bus and prepare for frequent stops. Stop as soon as the red lights start flashing or the stop sign swings out to the side. Proceed with caution only when those lights are turned off and the driver moves the stop sign back into position. And watch for stragglers; some people who are running late may sprint to catch the bus at the last second.
- No texting nor talking please. We need your undivided attention while driving, particularly in school zones as kids can quickly dash out from the sidewalk without a moments notice. You don’t want that moment to be when you are looking at your phone. It only takes a second to have an accident. Keep you eyes off your text messages and on the road.
- Watch out for high school drivers. Many high school students with newly minted licenses are excited to drive to school for the first time, often with several classmates onboard. They may not be as cautious as perhaps they should. Keep on high alert for these rookie drivers and remember your defensive driving techniques.
- Be a good role model. Set a good example for your children when driving them to school, or anywhere else for that matter. Slow down, follow the rules of the road, and don’t drive aggressively. And stay off the phone. Don’t be a distracted driver. Not only is distracted driving dangerous, but if your children see you doing it, they may think it’s okay and do the same thing when they start driving.
- Expect the unexpected. Children can be unpredictable; at the best of times. Add in the excitement of a new school year and any anything is possible. Watch for children who may dart out from between parked cars or dash across the road with no warning. Many children have a limited sense of danger and with the they may not always be as careful as they need to be. So be prepared.
- Give yourself a little more time. Accidents often happen when we are rushed or running a little late. Speed limits get pushed and rules are bent if not broken. Give yourself a little more time in the morning so you don’t feel the need to rush to school to drop off the kids. And if you are running late, just relax and take your time.
- Teach your children the “rules of the road”. You can help keep your children safe by teaching them the rules of the road. Children should cross the street only at designated crosswalks, and where possible, under the supervision of an adult (ideally a crossing guard). If your child takes the bus, teach them to respect the driver and remain seated at all times. Encourage them to line up for the bus, in an orderly fashion, at least 5 feet back from the road in single file. No pushing or skipping. When getting off the bus, teach them to walk (never run) and stress the importance of being extra careful if they need to cross the street.
Back to school is an exciting time of the year. But it can also be a busy and potentially dangerous time on the roads as well. By following these tips and teaching our children to be more careful on the way to and from school, we can all play a very important role in ensuring everyone stays safe this school year. So slow down, give yourself a little more time in the morning to get where you’re going. Let’s do our part to make sure everyone gets to and from school safely!