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Back-to-School Safety Tips to Help Keep Your Child Safe

Study up on how you can help keep your school-age child safe while traveling to and from school

Study up on how you can help keep your school-age child safe while traveling to and from school

… And just like that, it’s time for kids to head back to school.

As summer break winds down and parents prepare to send their children back to school, it’s a good time to remind ourselves of the risks that children face on the trip to and from school.

“Over 40 kids are struck by vehicles while walking to or from school each day nationwide, amounting to more than 15,000 children injured annually,” says Krystal Trinkle, CRNP, with Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital. “That’s why a big part of getting your child ready for another school year is to review proper safety precautions to help keep them safe throughout their commute to school each day.”

Whether a child walks to school or takes the bus, parents and guardians should share these important safety tips with their children.


Whether it’s to school, the bus stop or around the community, children shouldn’t walk without an adult until they’re ready to. For most children, this isn’t until they’re at least 10 years old. As Trinkle says, “developmentally, children cannot judge speed or distance of driving vehicles until around age 10 or about fifth grade.”

Until your child is ready to walk on their own, practice walking to school safely with them, teaching them to:

  • Walk on the safest surface. Walk on sidewalks or paths whenever possible. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic and as far to the left as possible.
  • Cross the street where drivers expect you. Cross the street at marked crosswalks or intersections, never mid-block. Always follow the instructions of the crossing guard or the walk/don't walk signal.
  • Make sure there is no oncoming traffic before crossing. Always look left, right and then left again before crossing the street. Continue looking both ways until safely across.
  • Avoid distracted walking: Never walk while using earbuds, texting or doing anything else that may prevent you from hearing traffic or distract your attention

Bus riders

While everyone knows that passing a stopped school bus with its stop-arm out and its warning lights on is against the law, some drivers still do it, which puts kids at bus stops in harm’s way. In hopes of deterring drivers from doing this, school districts across Pennsylvania have begun equipping their school buses with stop-arm enforcement cameras designed to detect vehicles that commit stop-arm violations.

While these cameras will help catch drivers who illegally pass school buses, it’s important you review these bus stop safety tips to help keep your child safe:

  • Get to the bus stop early. By doing so, your child will avoid having to run across the road to catch the bus because of being late.
  • Wait in a safe spot. Stay away from traffic while awaiting the bus, at least five big steps from the curb or roadway.
  • Never run after the bus once it has left the bus stop. Create a back-up plan for getting to school in case your child does miss the bus. This will help prevent them from chasing after it.
  • Never cross the street behind the bus. Always walk at least 10 feet in front of the bus when crossing to help the bus driver and vehicle drivers see you.

Extra safety guidelines to follow

Cars and traffic aren’t the only dangers children may encounter while walking. Make sure your child know these safety guidelines as well:

  • Walk with at least one neighbor child or older sibling whenever possible.
  • Never take rides from strangers, or even people they know, without getting their parent’s or guardian’s permission.
  • Make sure they know how to say "no" if someone they don't know offers a ride, and that they yell and run for help if needed.
  • If someone calls out to them, approaches them or makes them feel uncomfortable, they should quickly get to the nearest adult they trust and tell them what happened.


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