Getting to school safely and efficiently
Nothing says back to school like hectic mornings scrambling to make lunches and check homework, rushing to get everyone out the door on time. Starting the school year and developing a routine can be stressful. Wondering if your child is getting to school safely can add to the stress of the beginning of the year. Whether your child takes the bus, walks, or bikes to school, there are certain safety precautions that you and your child should discuss prior to the start of the school year.
Consider your child’s age and developmental stage, because children are not smaller versions of adults. Are they mature enough to check traffic prior to crossing the street? Younger children cannot correctly judge the speed of an oncoming car, ultimately altering their judgment and putting them at risk. Children under the age of 10 should be crossing the street with a crossing guard or other adult to limit the risk of pedestrian traffic injury.
There are risk factors besides age that parents should consider when making the decision to allow their child to make the commute to school on their own. Parents should know that boys are at a higher risk of a pedestrian traffic injury than girls, most accidents occur between the hours of 3pm and 7pm, and the majority of children pedestrian injuries occur during nice weather when kids are playing outside. Many accidents occur when children run out into the street unexpectedly, such as from between parked cars. Make sure your child understands the importance of crossing the street from a corner.
Talking to your child is one of the best ways to prevent injury when walking or biking to school, or for fun. Consider walking or biking with your child prior to allowing them to go out on their own. Leading by example is a great way for your kids to learn the correct way to cross the street or ride with traffic. Teach children what different traffic signals mean so that they know the appropriate time to cross the street. Show your kids the appropriate hand signals for biking, and practice while riding through a neighborhood with minimal traffic.
By educating yourself and your kids about traffic safety, the risk of traffic related injury can greatly decrease, making for a safe and great school year!
- Heather Finnegan, PT, DPT