Back to School: Essential Safety Tips
The start of a new school year is an optimistic and exciting time. To keep it positive and create only good memories, it’s important to be aware of the season’s risks, especially hazardous situations on California roads.
If you or your loved ones are involved in an accident, you should contact a reputable personal injury attorney in California. However, there are certain steps you can take to lower the chances of an accident and the risk of serious injuries. When children head back to school, many of the risks they face can be significantly reduced with the proper precautions.
Road Safety Tips
Be Extra Vigilant
Children are smaller and less visible than adults. Among children under the age of 15 who died in vehicular accidents during 2020, a little over 20 percent were pedestrians.
As children head to school in the morning and return home in the afternoon, drivers need to be more vigilant than usual. Remain alert to unpredictable behavior, such as children darting out onto the street from between parked cars. As you’re pulling out of a driveway or a parking space, check that no one is behind your vehicle. Also, look at your side mirrors before opening your car door, because there may be a child on a bike passing by close to the car.
Drive More Slowly
Along with always observing the speed limit and other traffic laws, make it a point to slow down in certain situations, such as when you’re driving through residential neighborhoods, in a school zone, or past a park.
Don’t Get Impatient Around School Buses
The slow pace and frequent stops of school buses may test your patience. However, it’s important to never lose sight of children’s well-being and the relevant traffic laws, which may result in fines for illegally passing a school bus.
If a school bus is flashing its lights or extending its stop sign, you must come to a stop. This holds true when you’re behind the bus or in the other lane of a two-lane road with no median or raised divider.
Even after the bus has continued driving, exercise caution, as children may still be in the vicinity.
Drop Off and Pick Up Your Children Safely
Don’t try to cut ahead of other drivers in a drop-off or pick-up line. It’s essential to remain calm, patient, and alert. Even if you feel like you’ve been waiting for a long time, don’t aggravate the situation by aggressively honking your horn or behaving in other distracting or dangerous ways.
When it’s time for your children to leave your car or get in, make sure you’re on the same side of the street as the school. If you need to stop your car and get out with your children, find a secure parking space. Don’t double park, as it increases the chances of a collision with another vehicle or with a pedestrian.
For Children Walking or Riding Their Bikes
When Appropriate, Have an Adult Accompany Them
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of 10 walk or bike to school with an adult. You can also make your own determination based on multiple factors, including your child’s behavior and the type of route they take to school.
Before permitting your child to walk or bike without adult supervision, ensure that they understand critical rules of road safety, such as using crosswalks, paying attention to traffic signals, and looking both ways before they cross a street.
Encourage Children to Walk With Trustworthy Friends
As part of a larger group, they’ll be more visible to drivers. Also, they may be able to look out for each other and warn each other about hazards.
Give Them Enough Time to Get to School
When children rush to get to school on time, they’re more likely to make unsafe decisions, such as crossing a street at a red light. They’re also less likely to pay attention to their surroundings, and they may not check for oncoming vehicles or other dangers.
Make Sure They’re Wearing a Bike Helmet
As reported by Stanford Medicine Children’s Health, approximately 100 children across the U.S. die in bike-related accidents each year, and 245,000 children sustain injuries.
Because of the possible long-term impact on cognitive functioning and physical and psychological health, head injuries are one of the most serious outcomes of bike accidents. Wearing a properly fitted helmet can lower the chances of a head injury by at least 45 percent. It’s also important to teach children the rules of bike safety, such as following traffic signals and not swerving around other vehicles.
For Children on a School Bus
Behave Responsibly on the Bus
Although taking a school bus is roughly 70 times more safe than riding in a car, there are ways to make the experience even safer. Children should stay seated on the bus and not stick their arms, legs, or head out of a window. They also shouldn’t distract the driver by shouting, fighting, or throwing things.
Be Cautious Next to the Bus
After exiting a school bus, children may need to cross the street. If so, they shouldn’t walk behind the bus or immediately in front of it. They need to be at least 10 feet away from the front of the vehicle as they’re crossing. Otherwise, they’ll be in the bus driver’s blind spot. They should also keep an eye out for any cars that may be trying to unsafely drive around the bus.
When they’re waiting at a bus stop, children should behave calmly and keep an eye out for the approaching bus. They should stay off the street and avoid the kind of roughhousing that may get one or more of them shoved into the path of traffic.
Another scenario that calls for caution is when children drop something next to a bus, such as a book or a phone. If this happens, they should immediately notify the driver and receive confirmation that the driver is aware of the situation. They shouldn’t just crouch down next to the bus and start searching without the driver knowing where they are.
Precautions for Outdoor Activities
Every year, over 220,000 children who are younger than 14 need to go to an emergency room with injuries sustained in playgrounds. It’s a school’s responsibility to maintain playgrounds and monitor for unsafe conditions. As a parent, you can also keep an eye out for a potentially hazardous situation that the school needs to know about.
- Inadequate adult supervision.
- A lack of shock-absorbing material on the surfaces around equipment.
- Signs of deterioration and neglect, such as broken guardrails on elevated equipment, loose bolts or screws, and protruding nails.
Along with spotting unsafe conditions, it’s important to teach children various playground rules, such as:
- Remaining seated on swings.
- Facing forward on a slide.
- Holding back from going down the slide until the path to the bottom is clear.
Although playing sports offers many benefits, including improved physical fitness and social skills, student athletes still face an elevated risk of injuries. Annually, more than 2.6 million children need to go to emergency rooms after sustaining injuries in sports and other recreational activities.
There’s no way to completely eliminate the risk of sports injuries, but student athletes still benefit from various protocols and safe conditions, including:
- The use of properly fitted safety gear, such as helmets and shin guards.
- Timely medical interventions for injuries and sufficient time to rest following any injuries.
- Adequate hydration and breaks for resting.
- Well-maintained fields and courts.
Contact a California Personal Injury Attorney
With the right precautions in place, your children will stay safe when heading back to school and participating in activities they enjoy. Many accidents are preventable, and if an accident does occur, it’s important to look into whether it resulted from carelessness or negligence.
If you need to speak to an attorney in the aftermath of an accident, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation. We have a deep knowledge of personal injury law and a successful track record with personal injury cases. Along with providing our clients with legal expertise, we give them our compassion and consistent dedication. You can reach us at 888-529-3111 or through our site.