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You spent your last few weeks of summer helping them pick classes, buying school supplies, and creating the perfect [insert grade here] cool wardrobe. But have you talked to your kids about how they’re actually getting to school? Below is a guide to how to have these potentially life-saving conversations with your kids.
You may think a lot of the rules we’re going to discuss are “common sense,” but remember that your children are just that, children. We're not born knowing this stuff — safety skills need to be taught.
Pro tip: When teaching your children any safety information, the goal is not to scare them into doing what you want. Skip the horror stories, and instead lead by example and give positive reinforcement when your kids are practicing safety rules.
School Bus Tips
The school bus can be magical! Not in the Ms. Frizzle way, but in the saving-parents-a-ton-of-time way. Here’s what you should make sure your children understand about taking the bus:
- Help your kids to understand that the area immediately around the bus is the most dangerous because the bus driver can’t see them.
- Teach them to enter and exit the bus swiftly and safely. No dawdling!
- Show them how to stand 6 feet (or three giant steps) away from the curb when waiting for the bus, and, again, explain that it’s hard for the driver to see them because the bus is so tall.
- If they must cross the street in front of the bus, teach your kids to walk 10 feet in front of the bus. Your child and the bus driver should always be able to see each other. Make sure your kids understand that if they can’t see the bus driver, the bus driver can’t see them.
The Right Way to Walk
Here are some things to make sure your child understands when walking to school:
- Teach your children that if a sidewalk is available, they should always use it; it’s the safest place to be.
- If they’re on a street with no sidewalk, have them walk facing the traffic, and explain that it’s safest when they can see the cars coming.
- Explain to your kids why they always need to look both ways before crossing the street, and that they should only cross the street at crosswalks or intersections.
- Tell them to make eye contact with drivers before crossing so they know the driver sees them.
- Teach your kids to stay alert and avoid distracted walking. Head on a swivel!
- Teach them not to walk while texting or talking on the phone, especially when crossing the street.
- Similarly, teach them not to walk with headphones in their ears. Explain that they should always be able to hear the cars coming.
Look Mom, No Hands! (Please use both hands when riding a bike.)
If your child likes to ride their bike to school, teach them the rules of the road and practice riding the bike route to school with them.
- Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, and in a single file.
- Come to a complete stop before crossing the street; walk bikes across the street.
- Stay alert and avoid distracted riding. Never ride your bike with headphones in.
- Always wear a properly-fitted helmet and bright clothing. You may not think it’s “cool,” but it could save your life.
Reminder to the Grown-ups on Carpool Duty
- Eyes on the road; never use your phone while driving.
- Be vigilant of students walking or biking to school. Share the road.
- Obey school zone speed limits and follow your school's drop-off procedure.
- Never pass a bus loading or unloading children.
- The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous zone for children; stop far enough back to allow them to safely enter and exit the bus.
They Passed Their Driving Test!
A new school year means a fresh batch of teens driving to school for the first time. It can be nerve-wracking sending your child off with your keys for the first time, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some important things to do with your new driver:
- As great of a driver as they may be, there’s no way around it: New drivers are inexperienced. Practice with your new driver as often as possible — before and after they get their license. If you’re the one driving, give them tips as new situations arise.
- Set a good example; drive the way you want your teen to drive.
- Accidents happen. Make sure your teen knows what to do when one does. Our car accident checklist is a great resource for new drivers to be prepared. Get your copy here.