The days are already growing shorter, and when we turn our clocks back to Standard Time this weekend, it will get dark even earlier. This means more children will be traveling to and from school in the dark, which puts them at greater risk of injuries on their journey. There are several things that parents and drivers alike can do to help children get safely to and from school each day.
Start with being extra vigilant at all school bus stops and crossings. School buses are one of the safest modes of transportation anywhere. But as students enter and exit buses, be especially alert to ensure they safely reach their destination.
Parents can help their children learn and practice the safety rule “Be Seen to Be Safe.” Brightly colored clothing or backpacks help them stand out during dawn, day and dusk. When it’s dark, though, reflective gear or even a flashlight will quickly alert motorists, giving them more time to react.
Make sure children know to keep backpacks zipped so contents don’t scatter and distract them from their own safety. Jackets should be zipped as well so they don’t get caught unexpectedly, entangling the child.
Everyone should follow the “stop, look left-right-left, and listen” rule before stepping off a curb, even where there is a traffic signal. Accompany children when they walk to and from school as often as possible.
Now would also be a good time to remind children to avoid “jaywalking” or crossing from between parked vehicles. Crosswalks are safer and more visible, especially after dark. Also, never walk behind the bus or close to the wheels and sides.
Motorists can help by paying special attention to safe driving rules in low-light conditions. Watch carefully for children who may be walking, or entering or exiting a school bus. Observe the speed limit, especially on unlit or winding roads or when using low beams. Never pass a stopped school bus with its stop arm extended and red lights flashing.