With school starting again on September 9th, we need to think about making sure our children get to school safely. Your children want to grow up to be just like you. They imitate the way you talk, the way you perform everyday household tasks, and – that’s right – even the way you walk. The most important thing you can do to teach your kids safe pedestrian behavior is to practice it yourself: crossing streets at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks whenever possible, and making eye contact with drivers prior to crossing in front of them.
Here are some other ways to keep your children safe when walking to school or to the bus stop:
- Don’t allow a child under age 10 to cross streets alone. Adult supervision is vital until your child demonstrates traffic skills and judgment.
- Require children to carry a flashlight at night, dawn and dusk. Add reflective materials to children’s clothing.
- Prohibit play in driveways, unfenced yards, streets or parking lots.
- Make sure your children take the same route to common destinations (such as school) every time. Walk with your child to find the safest path. Look for the most direct route with the fewest street crossings.
Teach your child safety:
Practical, skills-based training has been demonstrated to improve child pedestrian behavior. Take the time to teach your child to:
- Look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Cross when the street is clear, and keep looking both ways while crossing. Walk, don’t run.
- Understand and obey traffic signals and signs.
- Cross at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks when available. Do not enter the street from between parked cars or behind bushes or shrubs.
- Stop at the curb or at the edge of the road if there is no curb, before crossing the street. Never run into a street without stopping – even for a ball, pet or any other reason. Darting into the street accounts for the majority of child pedestrian fatalities.
- Walk facing traffic, on sidewalks or paths. Walk as far to the left as possible if there are no sidewalks.
- Watch for cars that are turning or backing up.
Practice these skills with your children hundreds of times. Supervise them until they show you they are safe pedestrians.