Back to school season is here once again. For many of us, this time of year comes with a serious overhaul of daily schedules as we figure out how to get our children to and from school each day. Should they ride the bus, walk, or drive? Regardless of travel method, children are at risk for serious injury during daily commutes. So, in addition to those new pencils and fresh notebooks, make sure you provide your children with some back to school safety tips for a safe school year.
Bus Safety Tips
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), 25 million students in the United States ride a bus to school each day. This is good news because riding a bus is actually much safer than riding in a family vehicle (13 times) or walking (10 times), says the NSC.
If school buses are available in your school district, the NSC recommends that you send your kids to school on the bus rather than letting them walk or driving them yourself.
However, even the safest method of transportation is not without its risks. If your child rides the bus to school, you should remind them of a few bus safety tips, such as:
- Do not stand close to the road while waiting for the bus.
- Put away cell phones and other mobile devices until seated on the bus.
- Do not distract the bus driver.
- Stay in your seat.
- Keep your head, arms, hands, and feet inside the bus, never in the aisle or hanging out of a window.
- Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before getting up from your seat.
Pedestrian Safety Tips
Letting your child walk or bike to school is a great way to keep your children active and combat childhood obesity.
However, the hours before and after school can be the deadliest for school-age children, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Sixty-one children are involved in pedestrian accidents each day, most often during the hours before and after school, reports SafeKids.org.
Teenagers are actually much more likely to be hit by a car than younger students. Why? Because of cell phones and other mobile devices.
Older students are constantly looking at their cell phones, even while walking. Distracted by text messages, social media, and video games, students who are looking at their phones instead of at their surroundings are likely to disobey crosswalk signals and step into oncoming traffic.
If your children walk or bike to school, remind them to always stay alert and aware of their surroundings. Discourage them from wearing headphones and explain that if they must send a text message on the way to school, they should stand in a safe place to do so rather than send it while walking or biking.
Also, you should check if there is a Safe Route to your child’s school. This program’s goal is to promote walking and bicycling as means for children to travel to school while keeping them safe.
Teen Driving Safety Tips
Although the 100 deadliest days are behind us, teens are still at risk for accidents when driving, especially to and from school, largely because teen drivers are generally inexperienced. This means young drivers may have difficulty judging the space between cars, whether road conditions are safe to drive at high speeds, and how much they need to slow down in order to take a turn.
In addition to their inexperience, teen drivers are likely to drive distracted which contributes to the risk of accidents. Common distractions include:
- Cell phones and other mobile devices
- Passengers in the vehicle, especially other teens
- Loud music, especially if using headphones
If your child drives to school, remind them to put away distractions while driving. If they need to make a phone call or read a text message, they should pull over in a safe place first. Additionally, if multiple teens are riding in the vehicle, whether your child is the driver or a passenger, remind them that the passengers should not do anything to try to draw the driver’s attention away from the road.
In addition to driving distracted, teenagers are also more likely to drive under the influence. Young people are eager to experience adulthood and thus may engage in dangerous drinking and driving.
While you cannot police your teen every second of the day, make sure the alcohol in your own home is under lock and key. If not, you could be liable for your teen’s drunk driving.
Remember that safe driving starts at home. Never do anything behind the wheel that you would not want your teen doing. If you are checking your text messages or turning to look at passengers while driving with your child in the car, they will likely emulate your behavior. Follow the rules you tell your child and set a good example.
School Premises Safety
In addition to dangers while traveling to school, children are at risk for injuries on school grounds. They may trip over uneven flooring or be injured by another student. Additionally, one of the most dangerous places for a child at school is a playground.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that playground accidents cause over 20,000 traumatic brain injuries in children each year.
Playground injuries can be the result of:
- Overcrowded play areas
- Sharp edges
- Inappropriate supervision
- Lack of guardrails
- Improper protective surfaces
- Trip hazards
- Improper maintenance of playground equipment
Who is liable for my child’s accident at school?
Liability for accidents occurring at school depends on a number of factors including whether the in question school is public or private and whether someone at the school was negligent. If your child was injured on school grounds, the school bus, or in a pedestrian or car accident, contact the attorneys at Cordisco & Saile LLC today for help: 215-642-2335.