Start school on the right foot: by getting there safely

Back-to-school season is a busy time for parents. You may be out buying new notebooks and pencils. You might be signing permissions slips or attending PTA meetings.

What you might not be doing, however, is preparing your child for a safe ride to and from school. The beginning of the school year tends to see a spike in accidents involving school children. Here are a few tips to protect your children on the ride to school.

Riding the bus

Riding by bus tends to be safer than riding by car, in the event of an accident. However, taking the school bus has other risks. If your child takes the bus to school, teach them to keep a safe distance. While waiting for the bus, they should stand about six feet from the curb. After exiting, if they have to cross the street in front of the bus, teach them to stay 10 feet away from the bus--to ensure the driver can see them. Also teach them to check for traffic whenever crossing the street--even if the school bus's stop sign is engaged.

Riding in the car

Driving your children to school may also be an option for you. In this case, be sure to be alert and attentive around school zones. Follow the reduced speed limit, and watch out for pedestrians. Always maintain a safe driving distance behind a school bus, and never pass a school bus that is stopped. Follow the drop-off protocol at your school.

Driving themselves

If you have children that are of driving age, they may prefer to drive themselves to school. However, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers. You can help keep your teen safe by instilling good safety habits in them. Lead by example--by driving safely yourself. Ride with them while they're learning until you feel comfortable with their driving abilities. Lay out some ground rules surrounding their driving privileges--including rules about distractions, such as using their phone while driving.

A new school year brings many new activities--and also added risks. Following these safety recommendations will help ensure your children have a safe and happy school year.

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