Transportation Safety Tips
In an ongoing effort to improve the safety of students who walk or ride bikes to school, parents are encouraged to review the following fall and winter safety tips with their children.
- Wear bright-colored clothes, and if it is dark or hard to see, carry a flashlight and wear reflective gear. A variety of reflective gear is available in stores including zipper pulls, tape or tags for backpacks, and red blinking lights that clip onto shoes or clothing.
- Bicyclists who ride in the dark are required by law to have their bikes equipped with a white headlight and a red rear reflector or taillight.
- Walk or bike on the appropriate side of the road. If there is no sidewalk, be sure to walk on the side of the road facing traffic. Bicyclists should ride on the right side of the road, moving in the same direction as motor vehicles.
- Layering is warmth. Wear many layers of loose clothing, as this ensures that there are pockets of air between the clothing layers that insulate the body from the cold.
- Close “gaps” — neck and wrist openings are potential sites for heat loss. Wearing a scarf around the neck and long gloves or mittens can help close these gaps.
- Ice and the occasional snow in the Northwest can make it difficult to walk, so a good pair of boots or other shoes with traction is essential.
Makes sure bicycles and bicycle equipment are in working order
- Before riding a bike to school, check to see that the tires are inflated properly, the drive-train is clean and lubricated, and the brakes work.
- Keep both hands ready to brake. Allow extra distance for stopping in the rain, since brakes are less efficient when wet.
- Remember to always wear a properly-fitted bicycle helmet. Head injuries cause 75 percent of bicyclist deaths.
With more students walking to and from school, parents are advised to review the following safe walking tips with children. Motorists throughout the community are encouraged to drive safely, slow down in school zones, and be aware there are greater numbers of children walking to and from school.
- Walk with friends or family members. Younger children should always walk with an adult.
- Walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, be sure to walk on the side of the road facing traffic.
- Stay on a safe walking route. Don’t take shortcuts that could be dangerous. The district has identified safe walking routes for every school, which are posted on the Bus Schedules and Routes page.
- Be careful for cars parked in driveways. Watch for cars or trucks parked in driveways, and look for drivers in parked cars who may be getting ready to move their vehicle.
- When crossing the street, use an approved crossing area such as at a traffic signal or other marked intersection. Never dart out between parked cars, jaywalk, or use other illegal methods of crossing the street.
- Stop, look, and listen. When crossing the street, use an approved crossing area. Stop at the curb or the edge of the road. Look and listen for moving cars in all directions. Wait until no traffic is coming and begin crossing. Keep looking for traffic until finished crossing.
- Walk, don’t run, when crossing the street. Also, don’t push, shove, or chase others.
- Obey traffic signs, signals, and school crossing guards.
- Be safe, be seen. Wear brightly-colored clothing during the daytime to make it easier to be seen by drivers. When it is dark or hard to see outside, use a flashlight and wear reflective material on shoes, backpacks, and clothing.
- Never take rides from people not arranged by parents.
Sources: National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, National Center for Safe Routes to School, Washington State Department of Transportation, and Mayo Clinic.
Getting Ready for School
- Have your children put everything they carry in a backpack or school bag so that they won’t drop things along the way.
- Encourage them to wear bright, contrasting colors so they will be more easily seen by drivers.
- Make sure children leave home on time so they can arrive at the bus stop before it is due, ideally at least five minutes early. Running after or in front of a bus is dangerous.
Walking to the Bus Stop
- Walk young children to the bus stop or encourage children to walk in groups. There is safety in numbers; groups are easier for drivers to see.
- Practice good pedestrian behavior: walk on the sidewalk, and if there is no sidewalk stay out of the street. If you must walk in the street, walk single file, face traffic and stay as close to the edge of the road as you can.
- Stop and look left, right and then left again if you must cross the street. Do the same thing at drive -ways and alleys. Exaggerate your head turns and narrate your actions so your child knows you are looking left, right and left.
At the Bus Stop
- Have children wait in a location where the driver can see them while driving down the street. Try to avoid waiting in a house or car.
- Do not let children play in the street. Playing with balls or other toys that could roll into the street is also dangerous.
Getting On and Off the Bus
- Warn children that if they drop something getting on and off the bus, they should never pick it up. Instead, they should tell the driver and follow the driver’s instructions.
- Remind children to look to the right before they step off the bus.
- If you meet your child at the bus stop after school, wait on the side where the child will be dropped off, not across the street. Children can be so excited to see you after school that they dash across the street and forget the safety rules.
Cell phones and other electronic devices are often permitted on the school bus as long as:
- They are in backpacks or other holders, keeping hands free to use handrails while boarding and departing the bus.
- Sound is muted or headphones, ear buds or similar devices are used.
- Content does not violate the law or school district policy and procedures.
- Use does not create a distraction for the driver.