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Back To School Safety Tips

Back To School Safety Tips

Unintentional injury is the number one killer of children. Pedestrian injuries are the second leading cause of unintentional death among children ages 5 to 14. Back-to-school season provides a great opportunity to teach kids common sense safety behavior. Help keep your children safe from unintentional injury by teaching them safe ways to travel to and from school.

The Minnesota Safety Council, the Minnesota SAFE KIDS Coalition and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety offer these safety tips to help parents and children this fall:

Walking To School

Choose the safest route from your home to the school and walk it with your children. Look for the most direct route with the fewest street crossings. Children under age 10 should walk with an adult or older child every day because they may not be able to judge the speed or distance of oncoming traffic and their peripheral vision is one-third less than most adults.

  • Leave on-time for school and/or in plenty of time to catch the bus.
  • Teach children to know and obey all traffic signals and markings. For example: a flashing "walk" sign is not an automatic "go" signal.
  • Make sure children look to the left, look to the right and then look again to the left for moving vehicles before crossing the street.
  • Teach children not to enter the street from between parked cars or from behind brushes or shrubs. Darting into the street accounts for 50 to 70 percent of pedestrian injuries among children ages 9 and under.
  • Because drivers have a more difficult time seeing pedestrians, teach children to be extra alert in bad weather.
  • Be a good role model. Your children need you to not only tell but also show them how to be safe pedestrians.

School Bus Safety

An estimated 25 million students ride school buses daily. The majority of children who have lost their lives involving a school bus were not killed riding the bus but rather while they were outside the bus. Many injuries occur when children are boarding or exiting because a blind spot extends approximately 10 feet in front of the bus obstructing the view of the driver. Children may believe that if they can see the bus the bus driver can see them.

A child's behavior at the bus stop is an important aspect of school bus safety. While waiting for the bus, children should follow the following safety rules:

  • Be a safe pedestrian while walking to and from the bus stop.
  • Wear bright colors so that motorists can easily see them.
  • Stay on the sidewalk and be aware of traffic in the area. If there is no sidewalk, they should walk and stand facing traffic.
  • Wait for the school bus at least 10 feet from the road and further away if the weather is bad.

Remember that motorists may not always stop for the school bus as the law states so children should look left, look right and then look left again before crossing in front of the bus. They should cross at least 10 feet in front of the bus so the bus driver can see them. They should NEVER cross behind the bus!
While on the bus, children should observe the following safety rules:

  • Remain seated at all times.
  • Keep the aisles clear of books, bags, jackets and other items.
  • Don't throw objects inside or outside of the bus.
  • Don't shout or distract the driver unnecessarily.
  • Keep your head, arms and feet inside the bus at all times.
  • Obey the school bus driver and follow specific state school bus rules.

Safety Tips For Motorists

The following are safety tips for motorists who encounter a school bus and children on Minnesota's roadways:

  • Use extra caution when school children and school buses are in the area.
  • Be prepared to stop for the school bus.
  • It is illegal in some states to pass another vehicle within 100 feet of a railroad crossing. A school bus is required to stop at a railroad crossing but is not required to activate the amber warning lights so pay attention.

Know what is required when the flashing amber or flashing red lights of a school bus are activated:

  • Flashing amber lights are the school bus pre-warning signals. The purpose is to warn other drivers that the school bus is preparing to stop.
  • Flashing red lights and stop arm are indications that the school bus has stopped and traffic from both directions must stop at least 20 feet away from the school bus.
  • Penalties for school bus violations can be substantial. Fines range from $300 to $3,000 and one year in jail along with the drivers license suspension.

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