Back to School Safety Tips for Kids who Walk or Ride a Bus

120514(2)Many of the schools across Maricopa County, including those in the Phoenix area, are back in session today. Tens of thousands of children have packed their backpacks, grabbed their lunches, and are heading to classes at the moment, excited for a new year to begin and, likely, dreading going back to school at the same time.

If you have children in your house, they may be back in classes as well. If they have not yet started the year, they will be doing so soon and it is important for you to discuss safety with them as they head to school in the morning and leave school in the afternoon.

Older children likely will remember the safety lessons you have taught to them over the years but younger kids, especially those in elementary school, need constant reminders. They may forget that cars driving near them may have a hard time seeing the kids or that running across a roadway is not a great idea.

Arizona is fortunate to have a large number of schools spread throughout its cities and as a result, a lot of children can walk to school. The summer temperatures may prevent all those but the closest kids from walking right now but eventually, a large number of children across the Valley will walk daily to get to class. If your child is walking now or will be walking at some point this year, or if they take a school bus, make sure you talk to her about basic safety procedures to follow.

If your child walks, have your child always take an approved route to and from school. If you have not considered your child’s route previously, try walking with them once so that you can help them pick a route without a lot of traffic or with clearly marked, safe pedestrian crossings where necessary. If they will be walking during dark hours, make sure their clothing, including a jacket later in the year, is visible to passing motorists. Light colored clothing, clothing with reflective portions, or even a necklace or other accessory with a built-in light can aid in pedestrian visibility. A backpack is a great tool to help make your child visible because your child will carry it daily and you can modify it as you need to include safety patches and reflective portions. Remind your children that they should never cross mid-block and instead should utilize pedestrian crossing areas, including those that are manned by an adult crossing guard. Finally, teach your child that they should be leery of cars and that they should not expect cars to stop for them even if they are walking in a school zone.

If your child rides on a school bus, remind your child that they must act in a manner that contributes to their own safety. Children should wait in an area where they will be seen clearly by a bus driver as the bus approaches their stop and they should always wait until the bus comes to a complete stop before they attempt to get on the vehicle. Teach your children that if they must cross in front of a school bus, they need to do so a safe distance in front of the front bumper of the bus so that a driver can tell when the child is crossing and when they are clear of the path in front of the bus. While on board, children should remain seated at all times and should keep their arms and possessions inside the vehicle. If your child drops something near a school bus, tell them not to retrieve the item themselves but instead to inform the bus driver of the dropped item so that the bus driver can help by providing additional directions.

The start of another school year is always a time full of promise and excitement. Make sure it stays that way by helping your children avoid a pedestrian accident or a school bus accident this year.

Prior Blog Entry:

“Drifting” Into Bicycle Lanes Can Be Deadly, Phoenix Injury Lawyer Blog, published July 20, 2016.