The end of summer in Illinois and Wisconsin means many things, such as cooler weather, shorter days and … the start of football!
But most important, it means kids are headed back to school. And that means we all should be extra careful on the roads, in school zones and around buses in our communities. Don’t forget to watch for bikes, too! Here are some tips for both parents and kids to make sure everyone stays safe.
Use Caution on the Roads
- There are going to be a lot more kids on the sidewalks and streets when school starts, so take it slow and always be aware of your surroundings (good advice for all situations, of course). Be extra cautious around the times when school starts and ends for the day.
- Watch out for school zones! They’re usually easy to spot, as many have flashing signs indicating a slower speed limit.
- Remember to follow school-bus rules. You aren’t allowed to pass the bus – on either side of the road – when the red lights are flashing. And even when the lights stop, make sure the coast is clear before moving on. Kids can move quickly and erratically.
- Leave yourself extra time to make it to your destination. Whether you’re headed to work or dropping your child off at school, rushing is a recipe for disaster.
- Be especially careful in school or child-care parking lots and loading zones!
Teach Kids to be Safe While Walking
Just a few minutes spent explaining some basic safety rules to your child can make a world of difference when they’re walking to or from school.
- Always use marked crosswalks when crossing streets, and look both ways twice.
- Do not assume that drivers can see you. Try to make eye contact with them, if possible, when crossing the street.
- Watch for driveways when walking on the sidewalk.
- Be aware of cars that are turning or backing up.
- Never move into the street from behind a car or other obstacle. Don’t chase a ball, pet or anything else into the street.
- Always use sidewalks and paths. If there is no sidewalk or path, walk facing traffic and as far to the left as possible.
- Young children should never cross streets alone.
Teach Kids to be Safe While on Their Bikes
- Make sure your child wears a properly fitted helmet every time they ride a bike.
- Inspect the bicycle to ensure it is working properly, reflectors are in place, etc.
- Cyclists should ride on the right side of the road – with traffic. Stay as far to the right as possible.
- Encourage your child to walk their bike across busy intersections. Or better yet, choose a route without any.
- Your child should never let someone ride on their handlebars.
- Always follow the rules of the road, using proper hand signals and obeying traffic signs.
- Children should not ride bicycles at dusk or in the dark. If this is unavoidable, make sure they have a light on the bike and reflective clothing as well.
- Most important, supervise your child every time he or she rides – until you are certain they have good judgment.
This is all basic stuff – but it’s always good to be reminded. Take it slow, and let’s have a happy and safe school year!