Back-to-school road safety tips for children and parents

Moratorium lawsuit on hold as judge reviews documents
August 18, 2010
Bryan Scott
August 19, 2010

Keeping kids safe never really leaves a parent’s mind, but the topic takes center stage for many parents when children return to school.

Whether you’re watching your teenager motor away to her first day of school as a licensed driver, or your middle schooler sets off to walk to school by himself for the first time, knowing kids are versed in road safety rules can provide some peace of mind.

Since many children make their way to school without direct parental supervision, either driving themselves, riding a school bus or walking, it’s important to make sure kids have basic safety knowledge. Here are some road safety tips every child should know:

For bus riders

School buses are one of the safest ways for children to get to school, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). Bus drivers are schooled in the practice of driving safely, but children still need to take steps to stay safe when getting on and off the bus, the time when they are most at risk. The NHTSA recommends kids:

* Board the bus one at a time and wait for the bus driver to signal it’s safe to board.

* Look to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder or side of the road.

* Take five “giant steps” away from the front of the bus until they can see the driver’s face. Wait for the driver to signal that it’s OK for them to cross the street.

* Look both ways when approaching the bus to make sure traffic is stopped, and keep watching traffic while crossing the street.

For walkers or bikers

Children who walk or ride bicycles to school should also obey the rules of the road. Be sure you see the kids off every morning, and consider checking in with the school or calling kids’ cell phones to confirm they arrived safely.

When walking to school on their own, children should stay on the sidewalk, cross at designated crosswalks and pay attention to crosswalk signals. If there are no sidewalks or signals, children should cross streets at intersections, first stopping to look both ways to watch for traffic. Children should never run when crossing the street.

Bicyclists should obey the rules of the road, and be aware they’re sharing the pavement with cars and other vehicles. Children biking to school should wear appropriate safety gear, including a bicycle helmet that fits well, knee and elbow pads and bright or reflective clothing.

For teen drivers

Safety on the road is especially important for teen drivers, who have a statistically higher risk of being in an accident than more experienced drivers. Before allowing your teen driver to climb behind the wheel and head to school, be sure you both agree on the boundaries and limitations of their driving time.

Allstate offers safe driving guidelines for teens on its website, including:

* Discuss when, where, how and with whom your teen is allowed to drive.

* Limit the number of passengers in the car. Laughter, music and cell phones can create serious distractions which increase with every additional passenger.

* Insist that your teen driver and all passengers wear seatbelts at all times. They may not be cool, but seatbelts save lives.