David G. Smith
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Top Back to School Safety Tips

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As Labor Day approaches, you'll see kids all over the Bay Area walking, biking or taking the bus to school. Others get a ride from their parents, who have to navigate busy crosswalks and school areas populated with kids on foot and bike.

Kids and parents alike need to pay attention when commuting to or from school. Here are a few safety tips for a safe school season.

Walkers

• Walk on the sidewalk; if there is no sidewalk and you have to walk in the street, walk facing traffic.

• Before crossing the street, stop and look left, right and left again to see if cars are coming.

• Only cross the street at a marked crosswalk and only when the light says it's okay.

• Never dart out in front of a parked car.

• Parents: Practice walking to school with your child, crossing streets at crosswalks when available.

• Never walk while texting or talking on the phone.

• Don't wear headphones when walking to school.

Bikers

• Always wear a helmet that is fitted and secured properly. Always.

• Choose the safest route between home and school and practice it with your children.

• Know the rules of the road: Ride single file on the right side of the road, come to a complete stop before crossing the street (and at stop signs and red lights) and walk the bike across if you're riding through a crosswalk.

• Watch for opening car doors and other hazards, like potholes.

• Use hand signals when turning.

• Wear bright-colored clothing so drivers can more easily see you.

• Encourage your kids to ride with others. Safety in numbers!

Bus Riders

• Stay about six feet away from the curb as the bus approaches.

• If seat belts are available, buckle up.

• Wait for the bus to stop completely before standing or use a handrail or pole.

• Do not cross in front of the bus if possible.

Drivers

• Share the road!

• Don't block crosswalks.

• Obey the crossing guards.

• Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and slow down in school zones.

• Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.

• Never pass a bus that's loading or unloading children (or adults, for that matter).

• Allow more than 10 feet between you and a school bus so children can safely exit and enter.

• Be on the lookout for school zone signals and obey the speed limits.

• Don't make U-Turns or pass other vehicles in a school zone.

• Unless licensed to do so, don't use handicap or emergency vehicle lanes to drop off or pick up your kids.

Playground Safety

• A supervisor must always be present when children are on the school playground.

• Playground equipment should be surrounded by shock-absorbing material that's at least nine inches thick.

• Watch for sharp edges and points on equipment.

• Elevated surfaces such as ramps should have guardrails to prevent falls.

The beginning of the school year is an exciting time for kids. As they head off to meet their new teachers and classmates, make sure they have a safe, enjoyable commute.

If the unthinkable happens and your child does get seriously injured on his or her school commute, contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

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David G. Smith, Attorney At Law
2201 Broadway
Suite 506
Oakland, CA 94612

Phone: 925-308-6484
Fax: 510-893-2701
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