It is hard to believe August is almost over and there are only a few days left until school starts. That means it’s time for back to school preparations and going over some back to school safety tips.
Let’s start with the drivers:
- Don’t drive distracted and watch for children walking and biking to school
- Slow down, obey speed limit in school zones and near school bus stops
- Look out for children around your vehicle, when you back out of your driveway
- Be prepared to stop for school buses if the yellow overhead light is flashing and come to a full stop when the red lights are flashing. Cars behind the bus and cars coming from the opposite direction have to stop when the school bus red lights are flashing.
Children and Parents
Taking the school bus:
- Wait for the bus to stop before boarding and always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access
- Walk only where you can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see you too)
- Look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required
- Do not move around on the bus
- If the school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure you use one at all times when in the bus
If you are driving them to School:
- All passengers should wear a seat belt or use an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat
- Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle’s seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4′ 9″ in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age)
- All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), move the front-seat passenger’s seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it
- Require teen drivers to wear a seat belt, limit the number of teen passengers, and do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations, texting or other mobile device use to prevent driver distraction
Biking to school:
- Always wear a bicycle helmet
- Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic. Use multi-use paths or bike lanes when available.
- Learn and use appropriate hand signals
- Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
- Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility. White or light-colored clothing and reflective gear is especially important after dark.
Walking to School:
- Choose a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at intersections (note: internal neighborhood roads don’t have crossing guards so the every seems unnecessary)
- Use the NJ Walking School Bus app to find other children in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school. Organize a “walking school bus,” and take turns walking children to school
- If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
- Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility.
If you want to know more about bike and pedestrian safety learn how to organize a walking school bus and how to use the NJ Walking School Bus app, go to gmtma.org.