Safety tips for parents to impress upon their school-aged children

For many, Labor Day signals the unofficial end to the summer and the beginning of the school season. With this reconvening of classes comes heightened traffic levels and congestion.

Yet despite this annual back-to-school tradition and the routines that come with it, a considerable number of accidents take place every year, many of which result in group auto insurance claims.

Some of these claims are more serious than others, as according to Safe Kids Canada, child pedestrian incidents are a leading cause of death for Canadian children 14 years of age and younger. In fact, more than two dozen young kids are killed in roadway accidents every year, with 2,400 more being seriously injured. Perhaps not surprisingly, most of these incidents take place right around the time kids and parents are coming home from work or school.

In light of this, Safe Kids Canada, in partnership with several other injury prevention groups, has released a few safety guidelines parents may want to go over with their children who are back in school.

Look both ways

While looking and listening may be one of the most basic tips there is, some kids and pedestrians walk into the street assuming that drivers will come to a stop. Due to distractions, however, motorists may not see when someone enters the road. Kids should always look both ways before crossing the street, Safe Kids Canada advises.

Accompany young children crossing the street

Some parents may be under the assumption that their child is free to cross the street on their own once they reach elementary school age. But injury prevention advocates say that developmental skills prevent some children from fully realizing when they may be at risk. As a general rule, children under the age of 9 should be accompanied by an adult before crossing the street.

Practice what you preach

While teachers may have an influence on children’s development, parents have the most direct impact, which is often demonstrated by kids doing the same things their parents do. Safe Kids Canada says moms and dads should conduct themselves in the way they would want their child to by adhering to safe road practices, such as being especially cautious in school zones and always using crosswalks when in the street.

Slow down

Even though young children may be several years away from being able to get behind the wheel, how fast parents drive can have a lasting impact on children, as driving above the speed limit may suggest that it’s an OK thing to do. Safety advocates caution that it’s always better to slow down, especially in school zones. Statistics indicate that the risk of a child dying from an automobile accident increase exponentially when traveling faster than 50 kilometers per hour.

Put away distractions

Finally, Safe Kids Canada encourages parents to put away all distractions when they’re on the road. Checking a text message or dialing a phone number may not seem like a significant diversion, but an accident can happen in a split-second of inattention. Parents should also advise their children not to use handheld cellphones when they’re going to class or headed home at the end of the school day.