Now that class is in session and parents have had a chance to catch their breath after completing a flurry of back-to-school preparations, they are looking at a long year ahead. Road safety becomes a continuous concern through the entire school annum and while we provided an article focused on how drivers can make the roads safer for young students, precautions need to be taken on the flip side too.
5 Pedestrian Safety Tips for Parents to Teach Their Kids for the School Year
1. Map Out Their Route
Making sure your child has a consistent walking path from home or drop-off point to school will help them feel secure and keep them more conscious of their surroundings, including the roads and bike paths they have to navigate to get to class. Draw out a map on paper and attach it to their notebook/binder and perform a couple of walk throughs with them, until you’re both confident.
Make sure you also map out a secondary route in the event that there is construction or something else that may prevent them from following the normal course. Without a back-up, they can get flustered and may not make wise pedestrian decisions.
2. Better Late Than Unsafe
Traffic, a faulty alarm clock (snooze button?), or any other AM event may cause your child to be late for school. Let them know that they should never rush when making their way there from home or drop-off point, even if it will result in a not-so punctual arrival. Doing so can have them forget all they know about pedestrian safety, neglecting to look both ways before crossing and so forth. It’s better to receive a few demerits from the teacher than risk harm by not abiding by the rules of the road.
3. Prevent Distracted Walking
The distracted driving epidemic is at the forefront of every road safety discussion, but pedestrian distractions are of major concern too. Four out of 10 Canadians admit to distracted walking, and we can’t help but think that the number is higher when it comes to kids who inherently have shorter attention spans that us grown-ups. Also consider this information – a survey of more than 5,400 Canadian kids in grades 4 through 11 found a majority had their own cellphone, while nearly one in four of the youngest children owned a mobile device. One of the biggest concerns today in regards to pedestrian safety, is smartphone-distracted walking. It has become such an issue that it has been added to the statistical report on unintentional deaths and injuries published by the National Safety Council.
Make sure your child keeps their device and any other form of walking distraction (comic books, toys, snacks, etc.) in their backpack to and from school.
4. Dress and Accessorize to be Seen
As the school year progresses from September, the days become shorter. Walks to school in the AM become darker, as do the ones at day’s end, especially if your student partakes in extra-curricular activities after class. Make sure your child is wearing bright clothes and/or reflective gear to and from school during the autumn and winter and in poor weather year-round.
5. Make Sure They Know the Pedestrian Rules of the Road
Your child should be well-versed in the rules of the road that apply to them as pedestrians. Younger children will need to be taught what each light at a crosswalk means and know the meaning of all road signs. It is also important for them to understand that even though drivers are supposed to follow the rules regarding stop signs, school zone speed limits, and changing lights, they should not make any assumptions. Instead, they must look both ways before crossing a street or bike path, note cars that may be turning the corner behind them, and proceed at a good pace while keeping an eye on approaching cars.
Last but not least, view this ICBC guide on child pedestrian road safety and make sure your children are also familiar with its content.