With the close of each summer comes the return of school, including back-to-school shopping, hectic schedules, sports, and seemingly never-ending homework.
In fact, Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently helped our local students get in the school spirit as a sponsor of Childspree, which takes hundreds of underprivileged children back-to-school shopping at Kohl’s. The annual program organized by the Bakersfield Active 20-30 Club provides students with a backpack full of school supplies and $125 for clothes. Volunteers, including Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorneys and staff, helped the students pick out new digs.
Chain | Cohn | Stiles takes this time of the year to remind parents and students to keep safety at the top of mind.
“Whether its students who are walking, cycling or taking the bus to school, parents dropping off their children, or other pedestrians and drivers around school campuses, safety should always be the top priority,” said David K. Cohn, managing partner for Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “We want everyone to arrive to class, and back home, safely.”
Here are a few helpful safety tips for parents and students alike:
STROLL TO SCHOOL
- Map a safe way for your children to walk to school or to the bus stop. Always use sidewalks or walking paths.
- Check for moving cars at driveways and intersections.
- Obey all traffic signs and crossing guards.
- Cross streets safely. Stop at the curb or edge of the street; look left, right, left and behind you for traffic; wait until no traffic is coming and begin crossing; keep looking for traffic until you have finished crossing; walk and don’t run across the street; and don’t use your phone when crossing the street.
- Work with other parents in the neighborhood to ensure that children in the neighborhood are supervised closely to and from school. Also, identify “safe houses,” homes of neighbors who your child is familiar with if your child is scared or needs help on the way to and from school.
- Point out places they should avoid, such as vacant lots, alleyways and construction areas.
- Encourage your children to use the “buddy system.”
- Teach children to always be aware of their surroundings. Be aware of slow moving vehicles or parked vehicles that appear to be occupied.
- Parents should also make sure the child knows his or her phone number, address, how to get in touch with a parent at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult, and how to dial 9-1-1.
CYCLING TO CLASS
- Always wear a helmet.
- Ride in the direction of traffic.
- Watch for opening car doors.
- Wear bright clothing to help drivers see you.
- Install reflectors on the rear, front, pedals and spokes.
- Install lights on the front and back of your bike.
WHEELS ON THE BUS
If children ride a bus to school, they should plan to get to their bus stop early and stand back from the curb while waiting for the bus to arrive. Other safety tips include:
- Wait to board the bus until it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant has signaled to get on.
- Tell children they should only board their bus, and never an alternate one.
- Always stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.
- Cross the street at the corner, obey traffic signals and stay in the crosswalk.
- Never dart out into the street, or cross between parked cars.
For more school bus safety information, check out this previous Blogging for Justice blog post on the subject.
If children ride in a car to get to school, they should always wear a seat belt. Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.
If a teenager is driving to school, parents should mandate that he or she use seat belts. Drivers should not use their cell phone to text or make calls, and should avoid eating or drinking while driving.
As for parents and other drivers, it’s important to remember the following:
- Obey the traffic laws.
- Follow the ingress and egress patterns at your school.
- If you want to avoid an unpleasant interaction with law enforcement, leave early, follow the rules of the road and be courteous.
- If you want to walk your child to his or her classroom, park off-site so you are not creating a traffic jam.
- Drivers should know what the yellow and red bus signals mean and be aware that children are out walking or biking to school and slow down – especially in residential areas and school zones. Yellow flashing lights mean the bus is getting ready to stop and motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off. Drivers in both directions must stop their vehicles and wait until the lights go off, the stop sign is back in place, and the bus is moving before they can start driving again.
- Pull into a passenger loading zone for drop-off. If there is no passenger loading zone or any space available, park in a legal parking space farther away.
- Drop your child off at the curb on the school side of the street rather than crossing into incoming traffic or having your child run across the street.
- Don’t park in the loading zone or in a school bus zone. Also, never double park; this creates an unsafe situation for children who are often difficult to see between cars.
For more school-related safety tips — including at school safety and bullying prevention advice — visit a previous Chain | Cohn | Stiles blog post here.
— Alyssa Wood for Chain | Cohn | Stiles contributed to this article
If you or someone you know is injured to and from school at the fault of someone else, contact the accident and injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.