Pedestrian safety tips: Avoid injury and death

August 19, 2008

How do your children get to and from school? If they walk, take a bike or ride the bus, there are important safety tips parents should be aware of to ensure your little scholars make it to the classroom and back home safely.

During the back-to-school season — in August and September — at Children's Medical Center, the Emergency Department sees an increase in trauma-related pedestrian, bicycle and school bus injuries — many of which are preventable by following some simple safety guidelines.

Walking

"The most common injury we see from children walking to school is a vehicle collision with a human," said Claudia Romo, program manager for Injury Prevention at Children's. "These injuries can range from scrapes and bruises to multiple fractures, head and brain injuries."

To prevent such accidents, follow these tips for pedestrian safety:

  • Children should walk with an adult until they are at least 10 years old, and they should hold a grown-up's hand when they cross the street or are in parking lots.
  • Always cross the street at a corner or at a crosswalk; cross with a crossing guard if there is one.
  • Walk on a sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the street, facing oncoming traffic.
  • Look left, then right, then left again before crossing the street. Continue looking while you cross.
  • After dark, make sure children wear light-colored clothing or clothing with reflective material.
  • Only cross in front of a bus when the driver says it is safe to do so.
  • Do not cross behind the bus or where a driver cannot see you.
  • Do not run onto a street for a ball, pet or any other reason.
  • Children should always play in a backyard or playground when they are outside and stay away from streets or parking lots whenever possible.

Riding a bike

  • Make sure your child wears a helmet that fits properly.
  • Make sure the bike is the right size for your child.
  • Bike helmets are for biking; they should not be worn on the playground or where the straps could become tangled on equipment.
  • Learn and obey all traffic laws. Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against it. Stay as far to the right as possible.
  • Do not ride a bicycle when it is dark, foggy or in other low-visibility conditions.

Riding a bus

"School buses are designed using stringent guidelines set up by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and must meet strict crash-testing criteria," Romo said.

Still, each school district sets regulations for its school buses, so parents should inquire at their child's school about the types of buses used.

  • Keep out of the danger zone. The bus driver can't see you if you're standing closer than 10 feet to the bus.
  • If something falls under the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up yourself.
  • While waiting for the bus, stay in a safe place away from the street.
  • When you get on or off the bus, look for the bus safety lights and make sure they are flashing.
  • Be alert to traffic.
  • When the bus driver says it is safe to cross the street, remember to cross in front of the bus.

Resources

School Bus Information Council
Safe Kids Worldwide

214-456-7000