By Stacy Jordan
September marks the end of a beautiful summer and the excitement of going back to school. Even if you do not have school-age children, your morning commute may seem more hectic or take longer as you travel through school zones and neighborhoods. As commuters, we experience more traffic due to school drop-off and pick-up, as well as more people walking and biking to and from school.
During the month of September, more children are hit by cars than any other month. Twice as many kids are hit by cars between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. when school is out for the day. While we have seen a decrease in child pedestrian injuries and deaths, 61 kids are still hit by cars every day in the United States. These injuries are preventable.
So, the first days of school bring us all a little bit of homework…
- Make sure all children under the age of 10 have an adult to walk with to and from school. Developmentally, many kids cannot judge speeds and distance until at least age 10.
- Walk the route to school with your children and point out the safest places to walk and cross.
- Review “Look left, right and left again” before crossing the street. Remind kids to continue to look and listen while crossing.
- Ask your kids to decrease distraction. No cell phone use while walking or biking.
- Make a “No helmet, no ride” policy.
- Walk on sidewalks and paths. If there are not any, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
- Bike on sidewalks or with the flow of traffic in bike lanes or as far to the right as possible.
- Cross at corners, use traffic signals and crosswalks whenever possible.
- Walk, not run, when crossing the street.
- Walk your bike in crosswalks.
- Remove headphones when crossing the street.
- Stop walking or biking if you need to use the phone.
- Where a helmet for every ride or roll. Protect your Head at All Times!
- Drivers are distracted! Make eye contact with drivers, wave and make sure drivers see you before you step in the road or in front of a car.
- Slow down and be extra alert in school zones and neighborhoods, especially before and after school hours.
- Watch out for kids who may dart into traffic or cross where they shouldn’t.
- Give pedestrians the right of way at a crosswalk.
- Decrease distraction. Even hands-free cell phone use makes it harder for drivers to be alert to walkers who may also be distracted.
For more information, visit www.safekids.org.
Stacy Jordan is the injury prevention and Safe Kids VT coordinator at Fletcher Allen Health Care.