It is recommended that parents walk the route to school with students before the start of the year to assess hazards and select a course with the least number of traffic crossings. If your child takes the bus, it is smart to explain appropriate behavior with other children while they are riding and demonstrate safe entry and exit procedures. Remind your children they must wear a helmet when riding their bicycles to school.
Now is also the appropriate time to explain what 'Stranger Danger' means. No one likes to think it could happen to their children, but more than 2,000 children are reported missing every single day. If the unfortunate happened and your child were lost, could you provide their height and weight? Would you have an updated photo to provide authorities?
Preparedness is the key.
Whether your children are walking, riding the school bus, being driven, or riding a bicycle there are a few tips to ensure they are as safe as possible.
If kids are walking:
- Map out a safe route to school and walk it with your child for a few days so they become familiar with the way.
- Make sure your child crosses at intersections where there is a crossing guard.
- Have children wear bright clothing that can be seen by drivers.
- Start a neighborhood school walk by having a parent accompany a group of children to school. Take turns supervising, allowing others to rotate the chaperoning duties throughout the week.
Riding the school bus:
- Tell your child to wait for the bus to stop completely before trying to board or exit.
- Teach him or her to look both ways before crossing the street.
- Make sure children are aware that they need to remain in clear view of the bus driver when moving around the bus.
- Children should only board and exit the bus in areas that are safe and/or close to the school building.
Riding or driving in the car:
- Obey the local school bus laws. It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus when its stop signal is extended. Each state has its own rules for the distances you must keep between a following car and a bus, and those distances might be much farther than you think.
- All children should wear a seat belt or use an age-appropriate car seat or booster seat. All children under 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles.
- If you have a teen driving to school, make sure they drive safely by using a seat belt at all times, limit the number of passengers, and set rules on distractions in the car such as no calling or texting behind the wheel.
On a bicycle:
- Make sure your child always wears a bicycle helmet.
- Teach them to ride in the same direction as traffic, on the right side of the road.
- Show your child the appropriate hand signals for turning.
- Explain the "rules of the road"--obey stop signs and traffic lights.
- Put your child in bright clothing to increase visibility to drivers.
Contributed by Adam Cybulski and Victoria Sins, Farmers Insurance Group, Hudson WI