Back-to-school safety tips as kids head back to class

By Heather A. Turner, managing editor of ALM’s NU Property & Casualty Group

The 2021-22 school year has just begun for students across the U.S. Although there is much uncertainty about how this school year will unfold amidst a surge in the Delta variant of COVID-19, many children are returning to in-person lessons for the time being, which also means kids are once again commuting to school.

To prepare students and their parents and guardians for school transportation this year, the National Safety Council (NSC) shares key tips that will help keep students safe while traveling to and from school throughout the year.

Safety tips for walkers

Parents and guardians should practice walking to school with their children and follow these safety tips:

  • Walk on the sidewalk when one is available. When there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
  • Stop and look right, left and then right again before crossing streets.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before crossing, and always cross at crosswalks or intersections.
  • Stay alert and avoid distracted driving.

Safety tips when driving kids to school

Parents and guardians driving students to school must always stay alert and avoid distracted driving. Additionally, they should follow these tips:

  • Obey school zone speed limits and follow the school’s drop-off and pick-up procedures.
  • Make eye contact with children crossing the street in front of the vehicle.
  • Never pass a school bus picking up or dropping off children.
  • When stopping near a bus, keep enough distance to allow children to safely and enter and exit the bus.

Safety tips for teens driving to school

According to the National Safety Council( NSC), car crashes are the number-one cause of death for teens. To keep teens safe while on the road, share these tips:

  • Parents and guardians should practice with new drivers each week before and after they receive their license to help them gain driving experience.
  • Lead by example and drive in safe ways as a way to teach teens.
  • Sign an agreement, such as the NSC’s New Driver Deal, that defines expectations for parents and teens.

Safety tips for bike riders

Parents and guardians should practice riding bike routes with children and offer these tips to student bike riders:

  • Ride on the right side of the road with traffic and in a single file.
  • Stop completely before crossing streets. It is best to dismount and walk bikes across the streets.
  • Avoid distracted driving while riding a bike.
  • Make sure children wear properly fitted helmets and bright clothing.

In addition to transportation safety, the NSC also offers tips to ensure students’ safety at school. What follows are ways parents and guardians can help prevent school-related injuries:

  • Inform children to use both straps of their backpack to distribute weight evenly.
  • Avoid overstuffing backpacks. Backpacks should weigh no more than 5-10% of the student’s own weight.
  • Rolling backpacks can be hazardous and can cause trips and falls in crowded hallways. These should be used cautiously.
  • Children should leave hanging jewelry such as necklaces and jackets with drawstrings at home to avoid strangulation risks at playgrounds.
  • Minor bumps and bruises are expected in children who play sports or outside, but head injuries should never be ignored, and consulting a medical professional is advised.

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