With the summer coming to a close and school quickly approaching, it’s important to start thinking about how to keep your kids safe as they head back to school. If you are lucky enough to live within walking distance of your child’s school then you likely spend a lot of time with your child walking, biking, or using a scooter going to and from school multiple times a week. While this is a great opportunity to spend time with your child and also get exercise, it’s also a good time to review safety rules with your child. If you walk to school, let your child know the importance of always walking on the sidewalk and using the crosswalk when crossing the street. If a sidewalk is not available to walk on, teach your kids to walk facing traffic so they are visible to oncoming vehicles. For younger children, it is helpful to review looking both ways when crossing the street to see if cars are coming and to make sure all cars have come to a complete stop before crossing in front of them. For older kids who are attached to their cell phones, make sure they know to pay attention to traffic and not be looking down, using their phone when crossing the street.
If your child bikes to school, be sure a helmet is always being worn and that it is properly fitted. A secured helmet is imperative in the event of an accident. Teach your children the rules of the road and ensure they know to ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, and to get off their bike and walk it in the crosswalk. For those kids who ride the bus to school, make sure you have made certain that they know how to get to and from the bus stop on their own or that you have dropped them at the stop and know they are safely there.
Safety extends to school hours as well, particularly for younger children who are constantly climbing on and jumping from playground equipment. Make sure they know to stay on their age assigned playground and only play on equipment they have proven to be competent playing on. For older kids, talk with them about safety when leaving school grounds during off periods and for lunch. This is especially important for teenagers who may have recently started driving and are giving friends rides. They need to understand the responsibility that comes with driving and be 100% committed to driving safely and text-free. In this regard, parents are the best examples of safe driving, so be sure to be an attentive driver and keep your phone put away!
As 2016 begins, it is safe to say that the majority of drivers on the road not only have a cell phone, but that cell phone is always in the car with them. With this in mind, I would urge all of those drivers who this applies to, to put your cell phone away each and every time you start your car. In short, STOP using your cell phone while you’re driving! Each year, over 300,000 car accidents occur as a result of drivers using their cell phones, both talking and texting, instead of paying attention to the road. With this many accidents and serious injuries, including fatalities, being caused by cell phone usage while driving, it is time that those of us on the road start taking driving seriously again. The average car weighs 2,000-4,000 pounds and there is no way to safely operate one without giving your full attention to the task at hand. Whether you have been driving for many years or only a few months, the importance of paying attention to the road and the traffic around you is not something that requires less attention over the years.
Many people have the opinion that they are “good at texting and driving.” There is simply no such thing. If you are driving and also using your cell phone, there is a good chance that at some point you will cause an accident that will most likely injure you, someone you love, or someone that you have never even met but who’s life you will significantly affect. At the very least, being at fault for any accident will almost certainly cause you an extreme amount of frustration as you deal with making a claim with your insurance company, handling the repairs to your vehicle, paying for the repairs and your higher insurance premium, etc. The point is that it simply is not worth it to use your cell phone while driving.
Think about every text or phone call you have made while driving and really ask yourself if it couldn’t wait until you were out of the car. 99% of the time, that call or text can wait. In the rare case that it truly cannot, then all you have to do is pull into the nearest parking area and safely use your phone. It really is that easy. The truth is that no one really needs to use their phone while driving. You don’t need to check your Facebook, Instagram, or email when you’re in the car, all of this will still be there when you reach your destination. For those of you who are driving with your kids in the car, think about the example you want to set for them. Eventually they too will be out on the road and need to understand the importance of not using a cell phone while driving.
So the next time you get in your car, don’t tempt yourself. Put your cell phone someplace that is out of reach so that when you’re at a stoplight and itching to check your phone you won’t be able to.