As summer vacations come to an end, students across the country are readying themselves for the start of a new school year. With all of the excitement this time brings, safety may not be the first subject that springs to mind. The American Red Cross encourages parents to take time to talk with their children about safety before school starts.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 24 million students nationwide start their school day with a trip on the school bus. Although NHTSA reports that riding on a school bus is nearly eight times safer than riding in a passenger vehicle, an average of 11 school-aged pedestrians are killed by school transportation vehicles each year. Whether they walk, ride the bus or travel by car, teach your kids these few tips to ensure they get to and from school safely.
Tips for School Bus Riders
- Line up facing the bus, not along side it.
- Do not play in the street while waiting for the bus.
- Carry all loose belongings in a bag or backpack.
- Never reach under the school bus to get anything that has rolled or fallen beneath it. The bus driver may be sitting too high up to see you.
- After getting off the bus, move immediately onto the sidewalk and out of traffic. If there is no sidewalk, try to stay as far to the side of the road as possible.
- Wait for a signal from the bus driver before crossing the street. Walk at least 10 steps away from the front of the bus so the driver can see you.
- Never cross the street or play behind the school bus.
Tips for Pedestrians or Bike Riders
- Never walk alone—always travel with a buddy.
- Pay attention to all traffic signals and crossing guards along the way. Never cross the street against a stop light.
- Always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle.
- Avoid ill-fitting clothing that could get caught in spokes or pedals or restrict movents, and wear reflective colors and material to be more visible to street traffic.
- Walk your bicycle across all intersections.
Tips for Car Drivers and Passengers
- Everyone in the car should wear a seatbelt, as they lower the risk of injury in the event of a crash by 45 percent.
- Make sure babies and young children are in safety seats at all times, and that safety seats have been properly installed.
- Read your car's manual for safety precautions specifically relate to the car and its airbags.
- Remind teenagers to take extra precautions if they are driving to school or riding with another teenage driver.
Tips for College-Bound Students
Students heading off to college—perhaps for the first time this year—may be inexperienced at driving long distances or driving alone. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, according to NHTSA. The risk of crashes is higher among 16- to 20-year-olds than among any other age group, and, unfortunately, young adults also are less likely to be buckled up than any other age group.
When preparing college-aged children for a long drive to school, make sure they take these precautions:
Preparing for the Trip
- Before packing the car, do a simple safety check. Turn on the lights and walk around the vehicle to ensure that all lights are in working order. Also check turn signals and look for any fluid leaks or things hanging from the vehicle. Make sure the tires are properly inflated.
- When packing your belongings in the car, make sure you pack carefully so there is nothing blocking your view through the rear window. Check your mirrors before you leave to be sure you have an unobstructed view of the road.
- Prepare an emergency supplies kit for your vehicle and keep it in your car at all times. Include a first aid kit and manual as well as items such as a blanket, flares, a flashlight and batteries, jumper cables that can be helpful and may even be lifesaving in the event of an emergency.
- No matter how far your trip is, be sure you are well rested before you hit the road.
Hitting the Road
- Leave early and give yourself enough time to travel at a comfortable pace. Remember, speeding does not increase your ability to arrive on time; it only increases your chances of not arriving at all.
- Should you find yourself getting tired from the drive, pull over to a rest stop or gas station to walk around and refresh yourself.
- Do not talk on your cell phone while driving. Phones are distracting and impair your ability to concentrate on the road. If you must use the phone, pull over to a safe, well-lit parking lot and place your call there or at least use a hands-free earpiece.
- When driving in inclement weather such as rain storms, reduce your speed. Don't make sudden moves if the roads are wet. Applying the brakes slowly and steadily will help you keep better control of your vehicle.
- And, remember to always wear your safety belt and require any passengers who ride with you to do the same.
For more information about preparing for emergencies or for facts and tips about safety, visit RedCross.org.
The American Red Cross has helped people mobilize to help their neighbors for 125 years. Last year, victims of a record 72,883 disasters, most of them fires, turned to the nearly 1 million volunteers and 35,000 employees of the Red Cross for help and hope. Through more than 800 locally supported chapters, more than 15 million people each year gain the skills they need to prepare for and respond to emergencies in their homes, communities and world. Almost 4 million people give blood—the gift of life—through the Red Cross, making it the largest supplier of blood and blood products in the United States. The Red Cross helps thousands of U.S. service members separated from their families by military duty stay connected. As part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, a global network of more than 180 national societies, the Red Cross helps restore hope and dignity to the world's most vulnerable people. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs. The Red Cross is not a government agency; it relies on donations of time, money, and blood to do its work.