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Parents: Make sure school-age kids know the risks of the road

As fall approaches and schools reopen, many Tennessee school districts are returning to traditional models or implementing hybrid models for this coming school year.

Most districts are providing remote learning as an option, while others have students participating in a blend of in-person and remote learning, with staggered attendance. Regardless of the situation, parents must take care to educate their children about how they can get to and from school safely.

Does your child walk or ride a bike to school?

You might live close enough to your child's school that he or she can walk or ride a bike there. Even if you have taught your children road safety tactics before, you should review these rules with them, including:

  • Stay on the sidewalk when you are able to;
  • Only cross the street at designated crosswalks;
  • Look both ways and make eye contact with drivers before crossing; and
  • Always be alert - do not look down at your cellphone while walking or biking.

It is also helpful for parents to determine the safest route to school and walk that route with their children beforehand.

Does your child take the bus to school?

Even if your child rides the bus, you can still take measures to make sure your child is safe. For example, consider reviewing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) SAFE tips with your children. These include:

  • S: Staying at least five feet away from the curb while waiting for the bus;
  • A: Always waiting to get on the bus until it makes a complete stop - the bus driver will indicate when it is safe to board;
  • F: Facing the front and staying seated at all times while on the bus; and
  • E: Exiting the bus safely and looking for passing vehicles before stepping off or crossing the street.

It is especially important to review these safety tips now that reckless driving and traffic fatalities increased in Tennessee during and after the shutdown. However, you can alleviate your own worries - and help improve your children's safety - by making sure they understand how they can reduce the risk they face this school year.

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