The First Lesson of the New School Year

As of all ages throughout the area head back to school soon, parents and their children should refresh their familiarity with arriving at school and returning home safely as well. 

Safety should be the first lesson of each and every school year, and here are a few things to keep in mind as we enter a new school year.


Walking to school is great exercise and helps students prepare for their lessons. Students under 10 years old should walk with an adult or a responsible sibling that will ensure they arrive safely. Children should always:

Use the sidewalk when available, and if there isn’t a sidewalk present, they should walk at the edge of the street – facing traffic.

Focus when traffic is nearby – this is no time for playing.

Always use crosswalks to cross the street.

Look both ways, left-right-left, before crossing the street.


All of us enjoy riding our bikes, and biking can be a fun, efficient way to arrive at school. Just remember to do these simple steps to keep your bike ride safe:

Wear a correctly fitted helmet and affix the chin strap properly.

Ride in the designated bike lane when one is available. 

Bike riders should travel in the same direction as traffic flow and follow the traffic signs and signals that motorists use. Walk bikes across streets.

When using the sidewalk, keep an eye out for others, especially pedestrians.

Always avoid using electronics while riding; they’re a distraction and not worth the risks that may be caused by their use. It’s extremely important to look and listen while riding – be a defensive bike rider.

Riding the School Bus 

Did you know that school buses are the safest way for children to travel to and from school? It is also true that the greatest dangers to school bus riders occur when children are getting on and getting off the school bus. 

Statistics show that over the last several years, the majority of school-age pedestrians who were fatally injured in transportation-related crashes going to or returning from school, were struck by school buses or other vehicles when boarding or disembarking a school bus. Here are some tips for riding the bus safely:

Each child needs to always play it S-A-F-E:

Six steps back from the curb.

Always wait for the bus driver to indicate when to safely board.

Face the front of the bus after finding your seat on the school bus.

Exit the school bus when it stops, look left-right-left as you reach the bottom step, and safely take six steps away from the bus at the road.


For some younger drivers, back to school also means the newfound freedom of driving an automobile. 

Research indicates that teen drivers are the largest age group described as distracted at the time of fatal crashes. 

Texting or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds on average, and while traveling at 55 miles-per-hour, that is equal to driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes shut. 

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, during 2015, 3,477 people were killed and 391,000 were injured in vehicle crashes involving preoccupied drivers. 

Keep the following suggestions top of mind when you are driving to enjoy a safe trip for everyone:

Ensure a safe and attentive driver is behind the wheel.

Your car doesn’t move until each occupant is buckled safely.

 Use proper car seats and booster seats for younger passengers. Don’t forget: each occupant under age 13 rides in the back seat – no exceptions.

When the “STOP” arm of a school bus is extended – STOP!

Making eye contact with others you share the road with helps to communicate each other’s intentions. 

Remember the phone stays down (doesn’t exist) when driving!

So, while you’re chatting about school subjects or new teachers or needed school supplies, make safety an essential part of your back-to-school discussion with your children. 

Remember, the conversation about your entire family staying safe and staying alive is always worth your greatest attention.

Kevin Jennings
Kevin Jennings
Husband to one - Dad to six - Grandpa to five - Friend and Neighbor to all.

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