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Pedestrian Safety Tips for Parents With Back-to-School Kids

September is also back-to-school season and parents and caregivers are urged to take the time to teach and review important safety guidelines with children.

"Back-to-school season is busy and be stressful for parents. Spending some time to teach children about safety when crossing a street or riding a bicycle to school can be one less concern on an already overloaded parent's mind," said Barb Bailey, an injury prevention specialist with the Colorado SAFE KIDS Coalition, which is based at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Children not only need parents to tell them about safety, but they also need to be shown how to be safe pedestrians, Bailey stressed.

"Parents need to demonstrate proper pedestrian safety by being a good role model. It does little good to teach pedestrian safety to children when they see their parents jaywalking or racing through the school parking lot in their car to drop off children because they're late," according to Bailey.

Bailey also stressed the importance of drivers being patient with pedestrians in a crosswalk and reminded drivers that pedestrians have the right of way at any intersection.

"When children are in sight, slow down and drive within speed limits, watching for and obeying the slower school speed zones," she said.

To assure children travel safely to and from their destinations during the school year, state health officials offered the following safety tips for parents and caregivers to share with children:

Walking to School

Choose the safest route and walk it with children until they demonstrate traffic safety awareness.

Teach children to:

  • Recognize and obey all traffic signals and markings. For example, a flashing "walk" sign is not an automatic "go" signal. It means a pedestrian has permission to cross. But must first stop and look both ways for motor vehicles.

  • Never enter the street from between parked cars or from behind bushes or shrubs. Darting into the street accounts for the majority of child pedestrian fatalities.

  • Look in all directions before crossing the street; they should look left, look right, then look left again.

  • Cross the street at a corner or crosswalk and walk, not run, across intersections.

Riding Bicycles to School

Teach children to:

  • Wear a bicycle helmet at all times when bicycling.

  • Follow the rules of the road, which include riding on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against it; using appropriate hand signals; respecting traffic signals; stopping at all intersections, marked and unmarked; and stopping and looking left, right and left again before entering or crossing the street.

  • Not to ride at night and to wear retro-reflective clothing when biking at dawn, dusk, or during inclement weather. The risk of injury during nighttime is four times greater than during the daytime.

  • Parents should never let children ride on the road without direct adult supervision until age 10 as traffic skills and judgment thresholds are not reached until that age.

  • Parents should plan a safe cycling route with children and ride it with them to practice.

For more back-to-school safety information, call (303) 692-2589.

© 2001 Health Resources Publishing