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Getting to and from school each day can be a perilous journey for children and adults alike. With hundreds of cars, buses, pedestrians and cyclists all rushing to be at the school gates before the bell, often mingled with the usual rush hour traffic, the roads and pavements can be a confusing and dangerous place if your mind is not fully on the task at hand.
Over 8.3 million kids in England travel to school every day, either on foot, by bike, in a car or on a bus. Staying safe on the school run is critical to the health and welfare of parents, teachers and children and is not hard to accomplish if a little thought and planning goes into the journey. Here are some top tips to keep yourself and your kids a little bit safer on the daily run to school and back.
- Driving to school
If you take your children to school in a car, it is essential that no matter how late or rushed you feel, you comply with the 20mph restrictions on the roads around the school. Remember that just because your children are inside the car, it doesn’t mean someone else’s are not in the road. See if you can arrange to lift share with other parents to reduce the number of cars at the school.
Avoid rushing. Try to leave five minutes earlier to avoid being in a rush by the time you get to school. Watch out for children crossing the road near the school, as their minds may not be completely on the road. Never stop on the yellow zig-zags as this will restrict pedestrian’s view of oncoming traffic and could lead to an accident.
- Walking to school
Children who walk alone to school should be fully instructed on road safety practices and discouraged from using mobile phones or music players on their journey. Most schools will have a safe place to cross near the premises, either with a crossing patrol or traffic lights, so encourage your child to make use of these, even if it means going slightly out of their way.
In the winter, children should be encouraged to wear reflective clothing for their walk to and from school, as it will often be dark or poor visibility at either end of the day. If you walk your children to school yourself, leave enough time to make the journey without rushing and to give you enough time to cross roads safely.
Across England, parents of secondary school aged children could save a whopping £520 million every year if they got their kids to cycle to school rather than driving them. While cycling is encouraged and has far reaching benefits for both the parent’s finances and the child’s health, making sure it can be done safely is of paramount importance.
To keep them safe, make sure you provide them with a bike that is the right size for them and which is well serviced with perfect working brakes and gears. Helmets are not obligatory but should be strongly encouraged as part of safe cycling practice. Make sure your child is aware of road rules and understands signs and signals. It can be a good idea to put them through their cycling proficiency test to reinforce their skills and knowledge.
What to do if there is an accident
If the worst does happen on the run to school, make sure you know how to handle the situation to avoid making it worse:
- Call the police and ambulance immediately – getting treatment for any injuries you have suffered is your first priority.
- Do not move any people, vehicles or bikes unless it is absolutely necessary and obviously safe to do so.
- Make notes of any witnesses’ names and contact details if you can.
- Take photos on your phone if you have that facility.
- Contact a personal injury specialist at a company such as injury lawyers 4U, as they will be able to advise on making a claim for compensation if the accident was not your fault.