August Means Back-to-School
August 8, 2022
“For the Children” Weekly Column by Joe Dorman, OICA CEO
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Joe Dorman, CEO – Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy
Telephone: (405) 833-1117
OKLAHOMA CITY – It is time for children to travel back to school. Over the next few weeks, we at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy will share some back-to-school tips to help begin the school year in a safe and productive manner for your children.
Traveling to and from school is one of the little discussed topics. Here are several pointers to remember, no matter which method of transportation is used.
Children are generally ready to start walking to school at 9 to 11 years of age. Make sure your child’s walk to school is a safe route. 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 two adults accompany a group of neighborhood children walking to school.
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.
Bright-colored clothing or a visibility device, like a vest or armband with reflectors which they can store in their backpack, will make your child more visible to drivers. This is especially important in the hours when visibility is lowered due to less sunlight.
It is best to practice the bike route to school before the first day of school to make sure your child can manage it. They should 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.
As with walking, wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility. Also, teach them the “rules of the road.”
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 they can see the bus driver, which means the driver will be able to see them, too.
If they must cross the street to ride a bus, encourage the same practices as with walking to school.
All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles with proper restraint systems. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), 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.
Remember that many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. Remind your teen to wear their seat belt, limit the number of teen passengers, and do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations (even when using hands-free devices or speakerphone), texting or other mobile device use to prevent driver distraction.
We hope these tips will help you maintain a safe way to travel to and from school and extracurricular activities. Best of luck with school this year to all the students going back to the classroom!