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Safety Tips to Share with Kids Who Will be Walking or Cycling to School

The return to school this year will be unlike any other. Keep these tips in mind to make your kids’ journey safe.

Two boys walk to school with face masks on

In an effort to promote social distancing on school buses, the Ontario government is encouraging more children to walk and bike to school, where possible. Along with safeguarding against COVID-19, experts say those modes of transit also provide children with exercise, help develop independence and stimulate brain activity, making learning easier.

Some parents may worry about safety. But experts say that by following a few simple guidelines, your child’s commute can be safe and easy.

1. Make sure your child knows the way to school

Before classes start, plan out the route to school and go on a few trial commutes with your young ones. Point out crosswalks, stop signs and safety hazards. Also, flag the homes of family and friends where your children could go to in case of an emergency.

2. Embrace the buddy system

Children who travel in groups are more visible to drivers.  Try to find walking or cycling buddies for your kids, like a sibling or neighbour. Bonus points if a parent or older student leads the group.

3. Reduce distractions

Get your children to stow their cellphones, video games and music players in their backpacks, or, better yet, have them leave all non-essential electronics at home. You want their attention squarely on the road.

4. Draw up an emergency plan

Whether it’s getting lost or taking a tumble, there’s a chance something could go awry during your child’s journey to school. So, make sure they know where to go and who to contact in the case of an emergency. Write down important numbers and put them in their backpack.

5. Keep your kids’ cycling gear ship-shape

If your children bike to school, make sure their two-wheeler is mechanically sound and that they have a properly fitted helmet. To do the latter, follow the 2V1 rule: there should be two finger widths between their eyebrows and the bottom of the helmet; the side straps should meet under the ear, forming a “V”; and you should be able to fit one finger between their chin and the strap.

6. Don’t fret a little rain

Experts say you shouldn’t let inclement weather prevent your children from biking to school. As long as the conditions are safe (ie. not a torrential downpour), dress your little ones appropriately and in bright clothing and they’ll be good as gold.

7. School your children in the safety essentials

Before their first solo commute, remind your kids to heed traffic lights, stop at stop signs and look both ways before crossing the street. They should also be told to avoid jaywalking and make eye contact with drivers before venturing out into the roadway.

8. If you drive, obey the rules of the road

Some days, the only way to get your kids to school on time is by driving. Just remember, when you’re behind the wheel you have a responsibility to look out for everyone else’s children. That means don’t speed, especially in school zones, obey all traffic signs and stop for school buses when their lights are flashing. When it comes time to drop off your kids, don’t double park, don’t stop on crosswalks and don’t hustle your children out of the car while stopped in moving traffic.

For more information on school zone safety, visit caasco.com/schoolzone.

Image Credit: iStock.com/South_agency