As school starts, everyone will be sharing sidewalks and crossing streets on foot, on bikes, or propelled by some other preferred form of transportation such as heelies, skates, skateboard or scooters. Each mode our children uses to get to school activities and sports practice requires its own unique level of comfort, speed, caution and safety.
1. Cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Period. Most walking and crossing injuries happen midblock and at places on the street other than intersections.
2. If there are no sidewalks for a section of the journey to or from school, encourage your child to walk facing traffic, staying as far to the left as possible. Teach them to always have an “out” or alternative place to step or steer if they feel unsafe. Walk the route to and from school with your child to determine the best method of navigation.
3. Eliminate electronic distractions. Teach your child to remove headphones when approaching an intersection and crossing the street. It’s better to limit phone use when travelling, and to stop walking and remain in place if a phone call must be made or answered.
4. Help your child understand that many drivers are distracted and not looking out for every pedestrian or cyclist. Whenever possible, have them make brief eye contact with the driver of the car before proceeding to cross a street.
5. If there is any doubt at an intersection, pedestrians and cyclists should always pause and let the other car (or cars) proceed. Instruct your student on simple physics: it’s more difficult to stop a large moving object and even the fastest reaction time by your child might not be sufficient to ensure safety.
6. Maintain proper balance at all times while in motion, whether that is walking or biking or rolling along on another kind of wheels. Don’t overload duffel bags or backpacks to the point that your child loses control to proceed smoothly or react to another person or vehicle that has strayed into their path. It’s always better to arrive with less but arrive completely intact!