Back-to-School Safety Tips and Resources

With a focus on pedestrian safety.

It’s no secret that distracted driving is a society-wide problem. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 9 people are killed and 1,000 injured PER DAY in accidents involving a distracted driver. Drivers 20 years old and younger are most likely to be involved in “distraction-related fatal crashes.”

The CDC reports that there are three types of distracted driving: visual (taking one’s eyes off the road), manual (taking one’s hands off the wheel), and cognitive (taking one’s mind off driving). Texting, because it involves all three levels of distracted driving, is an especially dangerous—and common—form of distraction.

But did you know that distracted walking is also a significant safety hazard? According to Safe Kids, more than 19,200 children are injured while walking each year, and nearly 500 children die per year in these kinds of accidents. Nearly half of these fatalities were children ages 15-19, a statistic which led the National Safety Council to start a campaign focusing on eliminating pedestrian distraction—particularly, distraction as a result of texting.

The National Safety Council reminds parents to speak with their children about these important safety rules:

  • Never walk while texting or talking on the phone
  • If texting, move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk
  • Never cross the street while using an electronic device
  • Do not walk with headphones on
  • Be aware of the surroundings
  • Always walk on the sidewalk if one is available; if a child must walk on the street, he or she should face oncoming traffic
  • Look left, right, then left again before crossing the street
  • Cross only at crosswalks

Reminding your kids to look “right-left-right” before crossing a street may cause them to roll their eyes—after all, you probably drilled this into their minds long before they even started school! But even when they know better, the temptation to look at their smart phone rather than the road may lead to bad decisions.

In addition to talking about pedestrian safety, Safe Kids Tulsa Area recommends these safety tips for parents with kids heading back to school:

  • 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.
  • Make sure your carpool is safe. Carpooling is a great way to save time for busy families. Make sure each child in the carpool has a car seat, booster seat or safety belt, based on individual age, weight and height. If there isn’t, find an alternative way for your child to get to and from school.
  • Receive a pre-participation physical exam. Before playing organized sports, make sure your child receives a pre-participation physical exam, or PPE, by a doctor. This can help rule out any potential medical conditions that may place your young athlete at risk. 
  • Drink enough water. Bring a water bottle to practice and games. Encourage children to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during and after play. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends 5 oz. for an 88-pound child every 20 minutes or 9 oz. for a 132-pound adolescent every 20 minutes.
  • Check playgrounds where your children play. Look for age-appropriate equipment and hazards, such as rusted or broken equipment and dangerous surfaces. Report any hazards to the school or appropriate local office.

The good news is, there are plenty of great resources online for parents worried about their children’s safety, especially as a new school year begins. Besides the CDC, National Safety Council and Safe Kids, check out Safe Search Kids, which focuses on digital and tech safety.

Further resources:

Parent-Teen Driving Agreement (Safe Kids)

Distracted Driving (NSC)

Back-to-School Safety Tips for Drivers (NSC)

Pedestrian Safety Tips (Safe Kids)

How Not to Get Hit by a Car (Safe Kids)

Cell Phones and Text Messaging in Schools report (National School Safety & Security Services)

Cell Phone Safety Tips (Safe Search Kids)


Categories: Features