Back to School Tips on Getting to and From School Safely - from the American Academy of Pediatrics

​Back to School Tips on Getting to and From School Safely - from the American Academy of Pediatrics


The following health and safety tips are from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Feel free to excerpt these tips or use them in their entirety in any print or broadcast story, with acknowledgment of source.

Whether a child is taking the bus, walking or carpooling to school, there are safety tips that can help ensure the trip is a safe one.

SCHOOL BUS

  • Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.

  • Remind your child to wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.

  • Make sure your child walks where she can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see her, too).

  • Remind your student to look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street - traffic does not always stop as required. Practice with your child how to cross the street several times prior to the first day of school.

  • Teach your child to respect all the bus rules, including staying seated and listening to the driver.

  • If your child's school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure your child uses one at all times when in the bus. (If your child's school bus does not have lap/shoulder belts, encourage the school system to buy or lease buses with lap/shoulder belts).

  • Check on the school's policy regarding food on the bus.  Eating on the bus can present a problem for students with allergy and also lead to infestations of insects and vermin on the vehicles.

  • If your child has a chronic condition that could result in an emergency on the bus, make sure you work with the school nurse or other school health personnel to have a bus emergency plan, if possible, prior to the first day of class.

WALKING TO SCHOOL

  • Children are generally ready to start walking to school at 9 to 11 years of age as long as they are at the right developmental skill level and show good judgment.

  • Make sure your child's walk to school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.

  • Be realistic about your child's pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision. If the route home requires crossing busier streets than your child can reasonably do safely, have an adult, older friend or sibling escort them home.

  • If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them or have another adult walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely. If your child will need to cross a street on the way to school, practice safe street crossing with them before the start of school.

  • Identify other children in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school.  In neighborhoods with higher levels of traffic, consider organizing a "walking school bus," in which an adult accompanies a group of neighborhood children walking to school.

  • Bright-colored clothing or a visibility device, like a vest or armband with reflectors, will make your child more visible to drivers.

BIKING

  • Practice the bike route to school before the first day of school to make sure your child can manage it.

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.

  • Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic and ride in bike lanes if they are present.

  • Use appropriate hand signals.

  • Respect traffic lights and stop signs.

  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility. White or light-colored clothing and reflective gear is especially important after dark.

  • Know the "rules of the road."

CARPOOLING

  • All passengers should wear a seat belt or use an age- and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat.

  • Your child should ride in a car safety seat with a harness as long as possible and then ride in a belt-positioning booster seat. Your child is ready for a booster seat when she has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders are above the top harness slots, or her ears have reached the top of the seat.

  • Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4' 9" in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age). This means that the child is tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with her legs bent at the knees and feet hanging down and the shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not the neck or throat; the lap belt is low and snug across the thighs, not the stomach.

  • All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat, move the front-seat passenger's seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it.

©2019 American Academy of Pediatrics