School crosswalk,

Get your child back to school safely

While driving to work in the morning, pay more attention to children crossing the street and ignore the text message you just received.

Even while drivers need to be aware of children and teens on bicycles or walking across streets, students crossing the street also need to be alert.

“Distraction is a big problem, both while driving and walking,” said Penny Shaw, Safe Kids Spartanburg coordinator and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System expert. “As kids head back to school, we urge parents to talk to their children to make sure they are paying full attention when crossing the street. We adults need to follow our own advice. If we put our devices down, our kids are more likely to do the same.”

Consider these transportation safety tips:

  • Put devices down while crossing the street.  One in five high school students cross the street while distracted by technology. Teach your kids to put devices down, look up, listen and make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street. 
  • Walk with your kids to the bus stop and wait with them until it arrives. Tell kids to stand at least three giant steps back from the curb as the bus approaches and board the bus one at a time.
  • Make sure your carpool is safe. Carpooling is a great way to save time for busy families. Make sure each child in the carpool has a car seat, booster seat or safety belt, based on individual age, weight and height. If this isn’t available, find an alternative way for your child to get to and from school.

Pedestrian safety is very important this time of year. More than 19,200 children seek medical attention for injuries sustained while walking, and almost 500 children die every year in pedestrian accidents. Pedestrian injuries among 16 to 19 year olds increased 25 percent over the previous five years, according to a 2012 report by Safe Kids. Children under the age of 19 account for half of all pedestrian deaths.

Driving distractions include everything from cell phone use and texting to eating and drinking, using in-vehicle navigation systems, adjusting the radio, watching a video, reading, grooming and talking to passengers.

“There is no safe way to use a cell phone while driving,” The National Safety Council states.