Tips for walking to school safely
Gone are our long, summer days with seemingly endless sunlight.
With the season change, our days are shorter, meaning less light in the early morning and afternoon.
Daylight Saving Time ended yesterday, moving us back one hour. Our new daylight hours: 7am to 4:45pm.
Bottom line: Children may be walking to school and crossing the street in the dark, when they’re less visible by drivers. We talked to Steven Lobdell, Assistant Director of Safety & Security for Tacoma Public Schools, for some quick tips. These apply to everyday walking as well.
1. Look both ways and use crosswalks as much as possible
Teach kids at an early age to look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Then remind them to continue looking until safely across.
Always use traffic signals and crosswalks if available.
2. Make eye contact with the driver
Even if the child has the right of way, teach them to make eye contact with the driver so both parties are aware of each other.
3. Put the technology away
Teach kids to put phones, headphones and devices down when crossing the street. It’s particularly important to reinforce this message with teenagers. Being distracted by technology while walking is becoming one of the major causes of pedestrian accidents.
4. Walk in a group
This provides safety in two ways: a group of students may be more visible to a driver than a single student and it provides personal safety from someone who may wish to do harm to a student.
5. Walk on sidewalks or paths
It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
6. Cross with an adult
Children under 10 should cross the street with an adult. Every child is different, but developmentally, most kids are unable to judge the speed and distance of oncoming cars until age 10.
7. Be a good role model
Set a good example by putting your phone, headphones and devices down when walking around cars.
Encourage kids to be especially alert for cars that are turning or backing up. Teach them to look for turn signals or back up lights.
Teach kids it is unsafe to run out in the street between parked cars or run across the street not using the crosswalk.
8. Be visible
Students should have some form of clothing, backpack or other item that is reflective, or some form of light to shine as they walk. Dark clothing is a major factor when it comes to pedestrian versus vehicle accidents.