SUMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - In just a few days, thousands of Lowcountry students will head back to school. District officials said travel safety should top the back to school checklist, especially during a hectic first week.
"Whether you're walking, bicycling, driving...that first week is really a learning for everybody trying to figure out how the roadways and the walkways are going to be," Mike Turner, safety and security coordinator for Dorchester District 2, said.
As a result, Turner said parents may want to walk with students the first week until students get into a routine.
"If it's possible to have students walk in group, that's way there's a little accountability," Turner said. "If parents can walk them that'd be really nice that first week of school, it gives the parents a sense of relief as well as the student."
According to a 2012 study by SafeKids.org, more than 60 kids are hit by cars every day in the U.S., most often during the hours before and after school. Turner said it's good to remind students to take their time through the crosswalk, especially young bicyclists.
"When they get to those road crossings and cross walks, they really need to remind students to walk the bicycle across instead of riding," Turner said.
Officials said parents should also get students at the bus stop with time to spare. Turner said any distractions like cell phones are dangerous when traveling. Instead, experts advise students' keep heads up and phone down.
"That phone call will wait, that text will wait," Turner said. "That first day it's going to be busy, not just in our district, but all three districts start on the same day...be patient, take the necessary time you need to get there in a timely manner."
Safe Kids Trident Area also shared the below tips:
- Make sure your child's walk to school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.
- Talk to your kids about how to be safe while walking. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
- Teach children at an early age to put down their devices (cell phones, headphones, tablets, etc.) and then look left, right and left again when crossing the street.
- Children under the age of 10 should cross the street with an adult. Every child is different, but developmentally, it can be hard for kids to judge the speed and distance of cars until age 10.
- Remind children to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street and to watch out for cars that are turning or backing up.
- If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them or have another adult walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
- When driving, be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones and be on the lookout for bikers, walkers or runners who may be distracted or may step into the street unexpectedly.
- “Use your head – wear a helmet.” It is the single most effective safety device available to reduce head injury and death from bicycle crashes.
- Tell your kids to ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against it. Stay as far to the right as possible. Use appropriate hand signals and respect traffic signals, stopping at all stop signs and stoplights. Know the “rules of the road.”
- Teach your kids to make eye contact with drivers. Bikers should make sure drivers are paying attention and are going to stop before they cross the street.
- When riding at dusk, dawn or in the evening, be bright and use lights – and make sure your bike has reflectors as well.
- Actively supervise children until you’re comfortable that they are responsible to ride on their own.
School Bus Safety
- Walk with your kids to the bus stop and wait with them until it arrives. Tell kids to stand at least three giant steps back from the curb as the bus approaches and board the bus one at a time.
- Teach kids to wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before getting off and never to walk behind the bus.
- If your child needs to cross the street after exiting the bus, he or she should take five giant steps in front of the bus, make eye contact with the bus driver and cross when the driver indicates it’s safe. Teach children to look left, right and left again before crossing the street.
- Instruct younger children to use handrails when boarding or exiting the bus. Be careful of straps or drawstrings that could get caught in the door. If your child drops something, he or she should tell the bus driver and make sure the bus driver is able to see him or her before he or she picks it up.
- Drivers should always follow the speed limit and slow down in school zones and near bus stops. Remember to stay alert and look for kids who may be trying to get to or from the school bus.
- Slow down and stop if you’re driving near a school bus that is flashing yellow or red lights. This means the bus is either preparing to stop (yellow) or already stopped (red), and children are getting on or off.