Back to School Safety

Back to School Safety TipsSeptember 6, 2016, is back to school day for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students. There will be approximately 396,000 students traveling to and from school every day. Some children will ride the bus, but to qualify for bus service, students must live at least 1.5 miles from school. This means that, in addition to some bus riders, children will be walking, riding bikes or being dropped off at school by their parents.

Whatever means the students use to travel to school, safety must be paramount. To this end, CPS has established a “Safe Passage” program with safety suggestions for students to follow based on the particular way in which they travel to and from school.

Riding the Bus

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that riding the bus to school is the safest method of student transportation. Of course, bus transport is not completely free of risk. On average, eight students a year are killed just getting on and off the bus. Another four are killed in accidents the bus has with other vehicles. Bus-riding deaths may be prevented if drivers implement driver safety rules and if parents and children pay attention and follow the rules.

The CPS system has established its own rules for bus-riding students. Some bus riding rules are:

  • When waiting for the bus, keep yourself and your belongings out of the street.
  • Do not move to the door or attempt to get on or off the bus until it has come to a complete stop.
  • When getting on and off the bus, watch out for your backpack straps and other loose items.
  • Do not reach through a window to exchange items with a friend.
  • Do not get on or off the bus until the driver gives the okay signal.
  • Stay seated at all times until the bus comes to your stop. If, after getting off the bus, you have to cross the street, move at least 10 feet ahead of the bus. Do not trust cars to follow the law and stop behind the bus just because the rear red lights are flashing. Before crossing, have eye contact with the bus driver and do not cross until the driver gives you the okay.

Walking to School

Students who live less than 1.5 miles from their school must walk, bike or get car rides to school. CPS recommends that students form a “Walking School Bus” program that works similar to a car pool. Kids walk in a group. Adults in the area take turns to ensure at least one parent walks each way with the students. Other recommendations for walking children include:

  • Never talk to strangers.
  • If a stranger grabs you, yell and shout “Stranger, stranger.” If you just scream and cry, passers-by may think you are just angry.
  • Obey all traffic signals.
  • Watch out particularly for cars turning right on a red light.
  • Always cross streets at the corner.
  • Do not wear headphones that will distract you or block your hearing of warnings such as horns.
  • Follow the school’s published safe route.

Riding Your Bike to School

Along with its other safety recommendations, CPS has guidelines for students who ride their bikes.

  • Find a safe riding route to school and follow the same path every day.
  • Follow all rules of the road that apply to cars. Stop at red lights and stop signs. Yield when the law requires you to yield. Use the correct hand signals for when you need to make a turn.
  • Wear bright, reflective clothing so you can be easily seen.
  • Park your bicycle in the designated parking area at your school and secure it with a heavy-duty chain lock
  • Keep your bike in good shape with working brakes and properly inflated tires.
  • Establish an alternate transportation method for those days with inclement weather too severe to allow for bike riding.

Parent Drop-Off and Pick-Up

Parents must follow the vehicle drop-off and pick-up rules of the school. Basically, stay in the established line, do not double park, jump the line or get out of your car. When the children get in the car, move on in the orderly established pattern. Don’t block traffic or get in the way of a school bus.

No matter how careful you and your children are, accidents may happen. If your child was injured traveling to and from school and you believe the injury was caused by the negligence of another, contact our Chicago personal injury lawyers at the Law Offices of Meyer & Blumenshine for a free case evaluation.