Back-to-School pedestrian and traffic safety tips
Submitted by Andrea Nolte
Safe Kids Kansas, the Kansas Department of Transportation and Kansas Highway Patrol urge parents to talk to kids about pedestrian safety and more before class begins.
Back to school is a busy time for children and families. Between school supplies, new clothes and sports tryouts, parents may not think about certain safety issues. Safe Kids Kansas, KDOT, and the KHP want to remind parents to talk to their children about how to stay safe.
As children head back to school, it’s a good time to talk about pedestrian safety. Nearly 500 child pedestrians, ages 0 to 19, are killed when hit by vehicles each year, and thousands more are injured. It’s just as important to talk to your teenagers about pedestrian safety as it is your younger children. While there has been a downward trend in pedestrian deaths over the past 20 years nationally, there has been a 13 percent increase among teenagers since 2013. In fact, teens now account for half of all pedestrian deaths among children 19 and under.
“Distraction is a problem for both drivers and pedestrians,” said Cherie Sage of Safe Kids Kansas. “If your student is walking or biking to school, be sure to stress the importance of putting electronic devices away, especially before crossing busy streets or navigating traffic in parking lots. And, adults need to follow our own advice. Give the road your full attention so you can watch for school zones and kids biking and walking to school.”
Safe Kids Kansas recommends the following tips for back to school.
1. Put devices down while crossing the street and getting onto or off of the bus. One in five high school students cross the street while distracted by technology. Teach your kids to put devices down, look up, listen and make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street. If your kids ride a bus, teach them only to use devices while on bus, and not while waiting on, or exiting the bus.
2. Walk with your kids to the bus stop and wait with them until it arrives. Tell kids to stand at least five giant steps back from the curb, and to line up away from the street as the bus approaches, and to board the bus one at a time.
3. Make sure your carpool is safe. Carpooling is a great way to save time for busy families. Make sure each child in the carpool has a car seat, booster seat, or safety belt, based on individual age, weight and height. If there isn’t, find an alternative way for your child to get to and from school.
4. Receive a pre-participation physical exam. Before playing organized sports, make sure your child receives a pre-participation physical exam, or PPE, by a doctor. This can help rule out any potential medical conditions that may place your young athlete at risk.
5. Drink enough water. To keep kids in top shape for sports or gym class, it’s important for them to stay hydrated. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends 5 ounces for an 88-pound child every 20 minutes, or 9 ounces for a 132-pound adolescent every 20 minutes.
6. Check playgrounds where your children play. Look for age-appropriate equipment and hazards, such as rusted or broken equipment and dangerous surfaces. Report any hazards to the school.
7. Whether walking or driving, obey all traffic signals. Kids should cross the street at the corner or crosswalk if there is one, but it’s also important for drivers to watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school.
Back to school safety is not only critical for students and their families, but for all of those who travel on our roads. KDOT and KHP remind motorists they must be alert as they share the road with kids headed back to school.
1. Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.
2. If you see a bus ahead, slow down in preparation for its stop. It’s easy to misjudge the speed at which you can overtake a bus, and they make frequent stops.
3. Know that it is illegal to pass a school bus stopped for loading/unloading. In Kansas, the fine for this potentially deadly violation is in excess of $400.
4. Learn the flashing signal light system that school bus drivers use to alert motorists of pending actions. Never pass a bus when flashing lights are displayed.
• Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop.
• Red flashing lights and an extended stop arm indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off. Motorists must stop and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before starting to drive again.
5. While stopped behind a bus, motorists should put all distractions away and give their full attention to the road, and what is going on in and around the bus.
For more safety information, visit www.safekids.org or call 785-296-1223.