At this time of year, Gwinnett and metro Atlanta parents can rest assured that their kids are back in school and their days will be filled with learning, school work, sports and other activities. After a summer of fun and play, parents can relax a bit knowing that they don’t need to plan daily activities to keep kids engaged and positive. This can be challenging during the summer months. As our children return to school we have new concerns. These include kids’ safety getting to and from school. Whether this involves our kids’ safety walking to bus stops or riding their bikes to school, we always want them to be safe.
The National Center for Safe Routes to School provides resources for parents and schools to help get kids to school safely. This year, some kids will be walking to school for the first time. Or taking a bus for the first time. As our kids settle into the school year, parents need to pay close attention to their safety getting to and from school because we know that drivers are paying less attention to their driving. And that is dangerous for our children, particularly in school zones.
The National Safety Council (NSC) notes good news in that fatalities for young kids walking (ages five to nine) has declined in the past 20 years. The NSC also notes a study by SafeKids.org determined that about 60 kids are hurt by vehicles on a daily basis in America. These accidents are most common prior to and after school. They also are most common in the fall, particularly in September.
Despite some improvement, there remain tragic fatalities and serious injuries for kids going to and from school. And the more distracted drivers we have out on our metro Atlanta streets, the greater the likelihood that injury will occur.
A new worry will not surprise our readers. Teen injuries are on the rise. Why? Because teens are more likely to be walking and reading or texting. So if you have a teen, make sure they know that keeping their phone in their back pack while walking or crossing a street is actually critically important to their safety.
Another area of concern are kids that are being driven to school. In fact, our own Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta have noted that the family car is commonly used to get kids to school. This increased congestion around school zones means that both drivers and pedestrians must be vigilant about avoiding distractions around school zones.
If your kids are walking or riding a bike to school, you can help your kids get to and from school with some basic safety measures. Spend time with your kids figuring out the route they will take to get to their buses or to school. Practice walking the route with them. Show them where to cross using crosswalks and arrange for them to walk with friends, rather than on their own, if possible.
To avoid pedestrian accidents, kids need to know how to safely crossing in a crosswalk. Most kids learn very early to look both ways before they cross. Basic, but it is an important start. They need to walk and never run across an intersection. Kids also need to know that just because they are in the crosswalk doesn’t mean they are safe from distracted drivers. This means that if they are walking alone or with friends, they must pay attention to the cars on the road. They need to learn to become defensive walkers and bike riders. They need to learn that even when the light is green for walking, they should concentrate on getting across safely.
So, please talk, walk or ride with your kids and help them learn pedestrian and bicycle safety for their school route. And feel free to contact Scholle Law for any questions regarding accident or injury. We are committed to the safety of all members of our community as we wish all kids and families a great school year. Stay Safe!!