School drop-off and pick-up can frazzle the steadiest of nerves, whether you walk your child to school, or drive them. Children appear from every direction and everyone is in a hurry. Throw in buses, and it’s no wonder that pedestrian accidents in school zones continue to happen at a disturbing rate. Luckily, there are things you can do to help.
Your child walks or bikes to school:
Depending on your child’s age, you may walk with them to school, or they may walk or bike on their own. Either way, consider walking with them a few times to make sure they are following these safety tips:
- Stay on the sidewalk. If your community does not have sidewalks and you cannot walk on the boulevard, walk facing traffic.
- Wear a helmet anytime you bike.
- Stop at crosswalks to look for cars. Check left, then right, then left again. Don’t walk between parked cars. If you ride a bike, walk it across the crosswalk.
- Teach your cyclist to follow the rules of the road: staying to the right, using hand signals, and following traffic signals. You should also teach them to look out for danger, such as road debris and people opening car doors.
- No distracted walking. This goes for parents, especially. Do not contribute to this growing problem by looking at your phone while. Even if your child is too young to have a phone now, remember that you are modeling safe behavior for them for the future.
You drive your child to school:
You probably already drive carefully in a school zone, but a surprising number of parents fail to do these few simple things to improve safety:
- Slow down and stop completely at stop signs and crossing guards. Follow the crossing guard’s signals.
- Check all directions before pulling out or backing up– remember that children might be behind or beside you.
- Do not double-park. It limits the view of other drivers, not to mention annoying the driver you block in.
- Look for bicycles. Many children bike to school, and they lack experience with bicycle handling, safety, and traffic rules.
- Put down the phone. This one should be obvious, but too many parents still talk on their phones while navigating drop-off. Distracted driving is especially dangerous in a school zone.
School zones will probably always be hectic, but you can do your part to improve safety, as well as sanity, during the school year.