Parents should help children plan the safest routes to and from school, and to play areas, friends’ houses and local stores. Additional tips:
• Take the most direct and safest route. If a shorter route is not safe, explain to your child why the longer way is better.
• Select the route with the fewest street crossings.
• Use pedestrian tunnels or overpasses to avoid hazardous traffic.
• Pick intersections guarded by an adult crossing guard or school safety patroller.
• Avoid confusing and complicated intersections.
• When available, always use intersections where children are likely to cross with a group of people.
• Look for intersections that have a signal with a separate pedestrian interval or WALK/ DON'T WALK indicator.
• Stick to routes with sidewalks, pathways and bike paths.
• Avoid streets where your child's view is blocked to the oncoming traffic.
• Before the school year starts, walk with your child along the route that you have both chosen. Insist that the child take the same route each day. Repeat this procedure until your child knows the way, understands why this route is best and goes that way as a matter of habit.
• If you are a working parent and cannot change your schedule for the first few days of school, have a babysitter, neighbor, relative or older brother or sister fill in for you until you are certain that your child is capable of getting to school safely.
Walking to School
• In areas where there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the roadway facing oncoming traffic. If an adult is walking with the child, the adult should walk between the child and the road.
• Cross only at corners or at a marked crosswalk.
• Stop and look all ways before crossing. Crosswalks are not magical safe areas. Children must be alert.
• Be especially alert in bad weather. Everyone tends to hurry in bad weather, visibility is reduced, drivers cannot stop quickly, and cars may skid.
• Be visible at night. If your child is out after dark, have him carry a flashlight and wear white or bright-colored clothing. It's also a good idea to use reflective strips on jackets, coats, hats and backpacks.
• Observe and obey all traffic signs and adult Safety Guards and Safety Patrollers.
• Watch for turning cars at all times, especially with right-turn-on-red laws in effect.
Taking the bus
• Stress the need to cooperate with the bus driver and AAA School Safety Patrol.
• Always wait for your child on the same side of the street as the school or bus loading/unloading zone.
• Avoid driving to the bus stop, as this adds to the confusion and increases traffic hazards for all children.
Biking to School: Tips for Parents
• When your child is ready for a bike, check to see that it's the right size. Your child should be able to sit on the seat and balance the bike with toe tips resting on the ground without leaning to either side.
• Children younger than age 8 need close supervision and should not be permitted to ride in the roadway, even on quiet neighborhood streets.
• Until children are about 9 years old, they should not try to stop their bike using only the hand brakes because they have not developed the hand and wrist strength needed to stop quickly and safely. Bikes for smaller children usually come with a coaster brake (foot brake). Small children should use a coaster brake or a combination of the coaster brake and hand brakes whenever possible.
• Young children should show that they are able to execute basic maneuvers such as starting, stopping, signaling and going up and down hills and around curves in a safe area before they are allowed on public roads.
• Children under the age of 10 should not be permitted to ride their bikes at night. If an older child must ride at night, the bike should have a functional white light in front, a red light in the rear and reflectors on the wheels and pedals.
• Reflective tape on clothing is also a good idea. Remember to always wear the appropriate safety gear.
Biking to School: Tips for Kids
• Always wear a bicycle helmet. This may reduce the risk of brain injury or death by 85 percent.
• Obey all traffic signs, just like the car drivers.
• Use hand signals when planning to turn or stop.
• Ride with the flow of traffic (on the right-hand side of the street).
• Stop before entering traffic from a driveway, alley or sidewalk.