Back to School – Back to Safety
In only a few more weeks, it will be time for the kids to go back to school. Soon, the roads of London Ontario will have more school buses on them, and quite frankly, more vehicles and traffic in general. Before school is officially back in session, it is helpful to keep some key safety considerations in mind.
September is a time where students are adapting to new schedules. It will also be a time where drivers need to adapt to changes in the traffic conditions. If you are a driver, it is prudent to provide yourself with more time in the mornings and the afternoons to arrive at your destination, in light the increase in school buses and commuter traffic in general.
When travelling near school buses, be mindful that there could be children standing near the side of the road and, in some cases, it’s possible that a child might run out onto the road, often chasing things like a stray ball. Travel slowly, leave lots of space between your vehicle and school buses, and always remember to observe the flashing lights on the school bus. The law requires that you come to a complete stop and remain stopped while the bus’s lights are activated.
There is also school transportation for students with disabilities. Be extra mindful of the fact that some students with disabilities might not be able to hear or see your approaching vehicle, or otherwise may have mobility limitations that pose hazards when embarking or disembarking from their designated transportation. Again, patience and caution should always be exercised.
If you are a parent of a young child who takes the bus to and from school, now is a good time to talk to your child about the dangers of strangers. You and your child should have a plan in place for how he or she will get to the bus and get home from the bus. An older chaperon is often recommended for young children.
Remind your children that when disembarking from a bus they need to walk around the front of the bus far enough to be able to make eye contact with the driver and signal to the bus driver that they are safe and have made their way around the bus.
Back to school is not only for young children, but also for teenagers and young adults. We often see teenagers and young adults walking with back packs and operating cellular phones or MP3 players, with headphones on. Remember that pedestrians have the right of way and always drive cautiously near pedestrians, affording them plenty of space. Sometimes students may be distracted by music, their phone, conversations, etc., so as the driver of an approaching vehicle, it is always best to err on the side of caution and be extra safe when approaching any pedestrian.
A great deal of promoting safety around children and young people stems from the discussing the dangers inherent in the society we live in. Safety and injury prevention often stems from being prepared and having discussions about dangerous situations. It is important not to overlook these serious safety issues, as nobody ever wants to deal with a tragedy after it’s too late to do anything about it.
From one parent to others, I look forward to the back to school season and wish everyone a safe, healthy, and successful new school year