In the midst of the flurry of activity that accompanies heading back to school, it’s worthwhile to take a few moments to review some basic safety tips for grown-ups and children.
School bus safety for drivers and riders
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), school buses are the safest way for children to get to and from school. The NSC asserts, “Riding a bus to school is 13 times safer than riding in the family vehicle and 10 times safer than walking.” If bus service is available, the NSC urges that students should take the bus.
Here are some tips for school bus safety for both children and motorists:
• Motorists must stop for a school bus with flashing yellow or red lights and an extended stop sign. Drivers in both directions are required to stop their vehicles and wait until the lights go off, the stop sign is no longer extended, and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.
• When crossing in front of a school bus, you should always be able to see the bus driver and the bus driver should always be able to see you. Remind children to leave about 10 feet between them and the bus when crossing. Drivers should stop far enough from the bus to allow children to cross safely.
• When driving behind a school bus, allow a greater following distance than if you were driving behind another car.
Prevent backpack-related injuries
• According to the American Chiropractic Association, a backpack should weigh no more than 10 percent of your child’s body weight.
• Ask your children to use both straps when wearing their backpack to help evenly distribute the weight on their shoulders.
• Select a backpack that fits your child correctly: not longer or wider than their torso and never hanging below their waist by more than four inches.
Biking safely to school
The most frequent cause of collision between a bike and a vehicle is a motorist turning left in front of a bicycle.
• When passing a cyclist, NSC recommends allowing three feet between your car and the rider.
• When making a right-hand turn and a bicyclist is approaching from behind on your right, allow them to move through the intersection first.
• Remember to be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones.
• Be sure to check your side mirror before opening the car door to check for bicycles.
• Remind children to ride with traffic, on the right side of the road in single file. When walking, teach children to take the sidewalk when possible or walk on the street facing traffic.