Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to School Safety Tips from the Department of Fire and Rescue Services

With school back in session, Fire Chief Charlie Lohr urges motorists to "Slow Down, Watch Out. Kids Ahead!"  His department offers a series of Back to School Safety Tips

For Drivers 
• Be alert and slow down. Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. Put down your phone and never text while driving. Looking away from the roadway for just two seconds doubles the chance of being involved in a crash.
• Passengers should wear a seat belt and/or ride in an age and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat. Children of all ages are safest when properly restrained in the backseat of a vehicle.
• Exercise extra caution as you head out to work and be on the lookout for school buses. Many bus routes or schedules change each year and you may encounter a school bus or stop where you may have never seen one before.
• Scan between parked cars. Nearly 40 percent of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., mostly at non-intersection locations, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Children can quickly dart out between parked cars or other objects along the roadway. Motorists should pay close attention not only at intersections, but along any residential roadways where children could be present.
• Take extra time when making a right turn on a red light and be on the lookout for pedestrians.
• School Zones: Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and around schools. Be alert to children as you back your vehicle out of your driveway or exit your garage.
• Expect delays near schools, plan ahead and allow extra time to reach your destination.
• Safety on the road is especially important for “new” drivers that may be driving to school for the first time.

For Parents and Children 
• Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Children are not always aware of their surroundings and may dart into traffic assuming drivers will see and stop for them. Carefully consider whether your child is ready to walk to school or wait for the bus without adult supervision and walk the route with your child beforehand.
• Teach children to always cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks and look left, right and left again before crossing. Children may have difficulty gauging the distance and speed of an approaching car, and may not recognize and react to potentially hazardous situations.
• If traveling to school by bike, obey the rules of the road and wear a helmet. Not only is it the smart thing to do, it is also the law in Maryland.
• Be sure that your child knows his or her phone number and address, your work number and when to call 911 for emergencies.
• Only drive or park in authorized areas when picking up or dropping off students at school.
• Be a good neighbor. Respect private property and always be on your best behavior while waiting for the bus.

See DFRS's press release for other safety information affecting kids.

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