Life is about to hit full throttle once again, as parents and children alike wave goodbye to the holidays and prepare for a new school year.
Parents are busy lining up to buy school shoes, labelling stationary and deciding which lunch box will last the whole year. How are kids getting to school is also an important part that requires more thought.
Parents play an important role in teaching and keeping their children safe on and around roads. Here are some useful tips to ensure the school drop offs and pick-ups are safe and stress free as possible.
Driving to school
Driving kids to school is the only way some parents manage multiple drop offs and starting work on time, however it can be stressful.
From double parking to illegal u-turns, we’ve all witnessed the dangerous driving that occurs in school zones.
The recipe for success is obeying the road rules, planning your journey and using common sense.
- Drop the kids off and pick them up on the school side of the road in your school's designated drop-off and pick-up area. Calling out to them from across the road is dangerous because they may run to you without checking traffic.
- Park further down the street and walk kids to the school gate to avoid traffic congestion near the school gates.
- Ensure kids are in the right child car seat that is fitted and used correctly. Big school does not mean it’s time to get out of a child car seat.
- Get kids in and out of the car using the ‘safety door’ (kerb side of the road away from traffic).
Walking to school together
Working from home has allowed many parents the ability to walk their child to school or even to ride together which is a great way to start the day. It also helps to model safe behaviours so children learn from you and use them when they are old enough to travel to school solo.
Remember that children are easily distracted and unpredictable. They are still developing the skills to judge speed and identify dangerous situations. Children are also small which makes them harder to see for drivers.
- Continue to hold your child's hand especially when crossing the road and in a car park.
- Explain why the place you have chosen is the safest place to cross.
- Remember to look out before you step out. Don't assume that a driver has seen you and will stop.
- Reinforce Stop!, Look!, Listen! and Think!
- Point out dangers along the way such as reversing cars out of driveways.
If they're walking, riding or catching public transport solo for the first time, it’s best to do a run through with your child to ensure that they are confident to travel to school safely.
- Map out a safe route from home to school with your child
- Walk through the route and nominate safe places your child should cross the road (e.g. at traffic lights, supervised or zebra crossings)
- Organise for other kids that live nearby to join your child on all or part of their journey to school
- Ensure your child is not a ‘smombie’ (smart phone zombie). Encourage them to unplug their earphones and put away their phone. If you struggle with this one suggest they at least pull one earphone out so they are still aware of their surroundings and can hear traffic.
- Remind them to wait until the bus has pulled away before crossing the road.