School is very important for children but getting to school safely is even more important. Some children are lucky enough to live near the school while others have to walk longer distances, ride the school bus, or ride their bikes. How can you help your child be safe on the way to school? School commuting safety begins as soon as children leave the home and doesn’t end until they arrive safely at school and vice versa.
A startling recent research fact adds more urgency to this. More than 150,000 children are injured each year during regular travel between school and home, and this number is climbing. What steps can parents take to make sure the journey is a safe one for their children? A good place to start is to consider how your child gets to school. From the moment they walk out the front door of your home to the moment they set foot inside the front door of the school and vice versa on the way home. Even children who live within a short walking or biking distance of school need to learn how to avoid hazards along the way.
Here are some things to consider:
- Make sure your child’s walk to school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at main intersections.
- Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Most children will not be ready to cross safely by themselves until they are at least 9 years old. Children under 9 still have immature judgment and perceptual skills, yet they are often eager to cross streets on their own in order to demonstrate some independence. Carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.
- If your children walk to school, make sure they are with friends. They should walk on the main sidewalks and not take shortcuts or stop to talk to strangers.
- Make sure your child uses the seat belt if you drive to school, even if it’s nearby. Remember that most accidents occur within 10 kilometers of home.
- Encourage children to trust their feelings. Teach them that they have the right to say “no,” even to an adult, if something does not feel right.
- Be aware of slowing or stopped school buses, cross walks and school zone speed limits.
- Every child must know the DANGER ZONES around the school bus. If your child can’t see the driver, the driver can’t see your child. Children should never enter the danger zone unless the driver has given them permission. The 10 Giant Step Rule is a good measure for children to identify the danger zone around the school bus, particularly when crossing in front of the bus.
An entire community plays a very important role in keeping school zones safe. With school starting soon, the hustle and bustle of school and student traffic will increase. It is up to each of us, parents, children and the community to be mindful of the laws, safety.