Head Up, Phone Down When Headed Back to School

Summertime offers a reprieve from school-year activities, but once fall rolls around again life becomes much more hectic. Parents and kids have a lot of new distractions to deal with: carpools, early schedules, after-school activities, bus traffic and more.

As your children march out the door on that first day of school – and every day – there is really only one priority: Making sure they get home safe.

Teens at Greater Risk 

Back in 1995, children ages 5 to 9 were more at risk than any other age group under 19 for being struck by a vehicle while walking. Today, there has been a noticeable demographic shift. It is now much more likely a teenager will be hit by a car than his younger counterpart. 

According to Injury Facts, of the 438 pedestrians ages 5 to 19 who died after being hit by a motor vehicle in 2016, 269 of those, or 61%, were 15 to 19 years old. We also know that about 44 pedestrians age 19 and younger are injured every day, often during the hours before and after school and peaking in September. 

Over all age groups, since 2009, pedestrian fatalities have risen 46%, with nearly 6,000 people struck and killed in 2016.

Cell Phones: A Deadly Distraction

The National Safety Council is focused on efforts to eliminate distracted walking – specifically walking while using a mobile device. Kids often don't recognize the dangers of distracted walking, as this eye-opening video by Safe Kids Worldwide indicates.

Before your children head out, remind them of these year-round safety tips:

  • Never walk while texting or talking on the phone
  • If texting, move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk
  • Never cross the street while using an electronic device
  • Do not walk with headphones in your ears
  • Be aware of your surroundings
  • Always walk on the sidewalk if one is available; if you must walk on the street, face oncoming traffic
  • Look left, right, then left again before crossing the street
  • Cross only at crosswalks

Kids Aren't the Only Ones Distracted

Drivers have a lot to pay attention to in school zones, too, and there is never an occasion that justifies using a phone while driving. One call or text can change everything.

A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention reveals that the most common form of travel to school for students age 5 to 14 is the family car. That translates into a lot of cars in school zones at the same time. Eliminating all distractions is key to keeping children safe. Learn more about motorist safety around schools.