This means that parents, drivers and others need to be especially vigilant about traffic safety when schools across the United States are in session, Vanderbilt University Medical Center experts say.
Distractions are a major threat. Teach children to make eye contact with drivers before they step onto the road, and to turn off handheld devices and remove headphones before they cross the street.
When using cellphones or other handheld devices, children should stop walking and stand in a safe area away from traffic, the experts advised in a medical center news release.
Parents need to assess whether their children are ready to walk to school without adult supervision, they added. If youngsters are ready, parents need to map out a safe route that has well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.
Children should know all pedestrian safety rules and have bright colors and reflective material for clothing and backpacks, according to the news release.
Drivers need to be mindful of school zones and always focus on the task of driving, the experts urged. If there are in-car distractions or drivers want to make or answer a phone call or text message, they need to pull over in a safe area away from traffic.
When approaching stop signs, crosswalks and intersections, drivers need to be on high alert for children walking to school. Never stop with any part of your car over a crosswalk, the news release noted. This forces pedestrians into danger zones as they walk around your car.
School buses also pose risks and the American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following safety tips:
- Children must walk where they can see the bus driver, which means the driver can also see them.
- Wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb, and check for traffic before crossing the street.
- If a school bus has seat belts, children must use them at all times when they're inside the bus.
The American College of Emergency Physicians has more about pedestrian safety.