You’re not sure who’s less excited about going back to school: you or your children. While the kids may be sulking that their last few days of summer are coming to a close, you’re upset for a different reason: you always worry that your child will be struck by a car during his trip to school.
While you may not be able to prevent an accident from happening, you can greatly reduce the risks to your child on his daily school commute, whether he’s riding in the car, riding his bike, or walking to class.
Know the Risks of Driving Your Children to School
- Buckle up! Make sure you buckle your kids in for every trip, no matter how far from the house you are traveling—and always wear your own seat belt to show your kids how important it is.
- Car seats. Any infants or small children should be secured in age-appropriate car seats or booster seats for every ride, with all kids under 13 in the back seat.
- Consider other moms. Travel slowly and carefully through school zones as if the children crossing were your own. In a few years, your kids may be walking to school, so treat the pedestrians and bikers as you would want your kids to be treated.
- Enforce “car voices.” Children can easily cause chaos and distraction in the car, so teach your children to be good passengers by using their “car voices” when they need to ask a question. Encourage responsible behavior, such as keeping their hands to themselves and not throwing anything while the car is in motion.
Kids Who Ride Their Bikes to Class Can Suffer Head Injuries
- Helmet rules. Children who wear helmets when riding bikes, scooters, roller blades, or skate boards to school greatly reduce their risk of suffering serious head injuries (whether from a fall or after they are struck by a car).
- Rules of the road. Teaching your children to ride a bike goes beyond keeping their balance. Make sure your kids know how to ride around others—stay in a straight line, don’t weave between roads and sidewalks, signal before you change direction, and wait for cars to pass before crossing roads.
- No headphones. Children should never wear headphones while biking. If your child is reluctant to give them up, explain why they are dangerous and set strict rules if you catch them riding with music playing.
Kids Who Walk to School Are Most at Risk
- No distractions. Teenagers, middle-schoolers, and even children walking to Longfellow Elementary are constantly seen with headphones running down from their ears as they walk to school. Make sure your child is not wearing headphones and is not looking at his electronic devices while walking to school.
- Safe crossing. Small children and teens should all know to look “left, right, left” before crossing any streets. Make sure they perform these check even if they walk signal is flashing, and to stop conversations with friends while crossing the road.
- Find the safest route. If your child must walk or bike to school in Kansas City, check the Safe Routes to School (www.saferoutesinfo.org) program to find out which direction your child should travel. Once you have picked a route, make sure your child travels the same way every day in case of an accident.
Do you know other parents who are worried about their child’s walk to school? Send them a link to this article on Facebook so they can educate their children on staying safe next to major roads.