Make Sure Children Get To And From School Safely

Cheri M. Gioe, Merrill, Thomas A.  |  8/3/2006 6:50:16 PM

2006 Back-to-School News (Distributed 08/04/06)

The beginning of the school year is right around the corner – meaning many children will be boarding school buses to get to and from school. Others will be riding bikes, walking or riding in automobiles.

No matter what the mode of transportation, LSU AgCenter associate Cheri Gioe says safety should be on everyone’s mind.

For those riding buses, Gioe points out that school bus transportation is safe – even safer than transporting children in personal vehicles.

"But even with its safety record, 26 children were killed in school bus accidents last year, and more than 9,000 children were injured," she says, stressing, "Most often children were injured entering and exiting the school bus rather than in a school bus crash."

To try to avoid such accidents and injuries, Gioe says to follow these bus safety tips and to go over them with your child:

–Wait for the bus in a safe place that is away from traffic and the street.

–Stay away from the bus until it comes to a complete stop.

–When being dropped off, exit the bus and walk 10 giant steps away from the bus.

–Always keep a safe distance between you and the bus when it is moving or about to move.

–Stay away from the bus until the driver gives her/his signal that it is OK to approach.

–Use the handrail as you enter and exit the bus.

–Be aware of the street traffic around you.

For those who take children to school in private vehicles, the LSU AgCenter expert says it’s important to remember that most car accidents occur close to home.

"It is important to follow child safety rules even if you are only driving down the block to your local elementary school," she says. "Everyone riding in a vehicle must wear safety belts at all times."

Injuries caused in car accidents can be reduced by as much as 45 percent when motorist and passengers wear safety restraints appropriately, Gioe points out, adding that drivers also should ensure that younger children are fastened securely in the appropriate safety seats.

Even those children who don’t ride to school in a school bus or other vehicle still need to be concerned about safety and protecting themselves, Gioe says.

"It is important to obey all traffic signals or signals from a crossing guard when walking or riding bikes to school," she says, stressing, "Never cross a street against a green light, even if you don’t see any traffic coming."

Gioe says parents should carefully go over such safety tips with children, and she offers this additional advice for those riding bikes or walking to school:

–Bikes should always be walked through intersections.

–Children should never walk alone. Make sure friends accompany one another when walking or riding bikes.

–Children should wear a protective helmet when riding a bike.

–Children riding bikes or walking should wear reflective material that makes them more visible to street traffic.

Even if you don’t have children in school, Gioe says safety still should be your concern.

"It is important than drivers pay close attention to traffic rules, especially school speed zones and school crossing areas," she says. "Drivers of vehicles encountering a school bus must stop when the school bus driver turns on its flashing stop sign. And drivers must remain stopped until the sign is turned off and the bus begins moving."

For additional back-to-school tips and information on a variety of other topics related to family life, visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

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Gioe is involved in the LSU AgCenter’s "Be Child Care Aware!" educational program, which educates parents and child-care providers about quality child care. It is funded, in part, through a contract with the Louisiana Department of Social Services’ Office of Family Support.

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Contact: Cheri Gioe at (225) 578-6701 or cgioe@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or tmerrill@agcenter.lsu.edu

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