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We hate to say it, but summer is nearly over and in no time at all your kids will be heading back to school. To help keep them safe, all parents and caregivers should talk about the right ways to travel to and from class, especially if your kids are old enough to drive. Here are some tips to make this conversation easier.
Driving to school
If your teen plans to drive to school, there are plenty of factors to consider besides getting a good parking space. For one, your teen will be driving early in the morning and drowsy driving is a form or impaired driving. Teens need even more sleep than adults, so make sure your teen is always prepared to make it to school safe.
Another important topic? How your teen should drive in school zones and around school buses. This might seem obvious, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. School buses are slow and other drivers can be impatient. Your teen should know what to do when a bus puts out its stop sign, how to drive when it flashes yellow lights and how to react when another driver ignores those signs. Reinforce these rules so your teen knows exactly what to do (and what to avoid) in these traffic situations.
Finally, talk to your teen driver about the importance of anticipating the actions of other road users, and being prepared to respond if those expectations turn out to be wrong. Your teen might not expect a fellow student to cross the street outside of a crosswalk, for example, but he or she needs to be ready to react if this happens. This is what defensive driving is all about and it can make sure your new driver always makes it to school and back safe.
Other road risks
What if your teen doesn’t plan to drive to school, that eliminates those risks, right? Unfortunately, no. Schools are still surrounded by inexperienced drivers and your teen needs to watch out for them.
Many young pedestrians are injured in crashes in the hours just before and after school, so whether your teen will take the bus, walk, ride a bike or get dropped off by you, safety is crucial.
The National Safety Council offers a back-to-school checklist covering risks and precautions for each of these transportation options. Before classes begin, take your teen through this checklist and point out how it applies to his or her planned route to school. Maybe there’s a particularly dangerous intersection or a blind curve your teen should avoid. Identify these risks early on and help your teen choose another path.
Most importantly, make it clear that your teen should never ride with another teen driver, including older siblings. One teen passenger increases a new driver’s crash risk by 44 percent, so don’t accept excuses on this rule.
Keep these tips in mind all year long to keep your kids safe.
DriveitHOME™ is an initiative of the National Safety Council, designed by and for parents of newly licensed teen drivers. DriveitHOME™ offers free resources parents can use to help their teen build experience to become safer drivers.
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