Back to school vehicle safety tips

Going back to school is an exciting time for parents and children. However, it is also a time of increased traffic and road activity. 

My son started 4-year-old kindergarten on September 1. I can barely believe he is old enough to go to school five days a week. Like lots of kids, he will be getting to school through a combination of riding the bus, being dropped off by me or my wife or — when the weather is nice — riding his bike with me.

Here are some tips to prevent accidents or injury to children going to or from school:

1. When responding emergently, avoid routes that pass directly by a school. My local department does not allow red lights and siren use on the four roads bordering the elementary school closest to our station.

2. Avoid any situation – with a POV or emergency vehicle – that requires backing up. If kids are around and you need to back up, always use a spotter.

3. Stop far enough away from a school bus loading or unloading kids. I count the kids as they get off the bus and don't proceed until I have counted to confirm that each kid is off the roadway.

4. For younger children, wait with them at the school bus to assure that they stay out of traffic until the school bus arrives and that they safely get onto the bus. At the end of the school day, wait at the bus stop for younger children.

5. Turn on your hazard flashers while waiting for a school bus to load or unload. Other drivers may need the additional warning.

6. Use formal and informal interactions with children to remind them about the importance of seatbelt use and wearing a properly fitting helmet for biking and skating.

7. Make sure your children understand basic traffic safety laws and principles like:

       a) Using the crosswalk and following crosswalk signals. 
       b) Looking both ways for traffic. We look left, right, and left again before crossing. 
       c) Always use a sidewalk if it is available. 
       d) If a sidewalk is not available, walk against traffic and bike with traffic while staying as far to the side as possible.

8. Don't talk or text on your phone while driving, especially with kids in the car or while driving in areas with lots of children.

9. Finally, and most importantly, be a role model and demonstrate important traffic safety behaviors – reduce your speed to at or below the speed limit, wear your seatbelt, yield to pedestrians and obey school speed zones.

Submit your traffic and vehicle safety tips to prevent accidents and injury to children coming or going from school in the comments area. Be safe!

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