It is the start of a new school year here in Indiana and Illinois for both private and public schools. Kids from pre-K age to those finishing up their high school years and getting ready for college are all returning to the classroom now. Which means that parents must once again entrust their loved ones to the care and control of school officials and school authorities during the school day as well as during after-hours school programs.
Children Hurt in Accidents Going to or from School
One of the highest risks for children being hurt at or near their school are accidents that happen as the child is going to school or returning home. Car crashes, pedestrian accidents, and school bus crashes are all dangers facing kids as they are going to / from school. Children can be hurt not only when they take their school bus, but when they walk to school; ride their bicycle to school; or grab a ride with friends or family members.
The biggest danger for school children to be in an motor vehicle accident is between the hours of 7 o’clock and 8 o’clock in the morning and after school between 3 o’clock and 4 o’clock in the afternoon.
Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a national advisory concerning these kinds of accident dangers. The federal agency sent out a release to remind school districts, teachers, coaches, bus drivers, and other school personnel as well as parents, that there are risks of injury for kids in school zones and near bus stops.
NHTSA research shows that from 2004 to 2013, 327 school-age children were killed in traffic accidents going to or from school. Fifty-four (54) of these fatalities involved an accident with a school vehicle (bus, minivan, etc.); another 147 deaths resulted from accidents involving vehicles of friends or family; 116 children were killed in accidents while walking to or from school; and nine died while riding a bike.
Accordingly, NHTSA and the Indiana State Police have suggestions for keeping kids safe while they are going to and from school this year. Their tips include things like:
- Drop your child off near the school where they do not have to cross the street before entering the school building or playground area.
- Make sure your children always use their safety belts and kids in the back seat are using the proper seat.
- Kids riding the school bus should know to respect and obey the directions of the school bus driver, especially when the bus is in motion.
- Children should be instructed to be careful when exiting their school bus; they should look both right and left for traffic and they should cross at least 10 feet (”five giant steps”) in front of the bus.
- Walking to school should always be done on a sidewalk and facing oncoming traffic.
- Children should cross at the corner, or at a crosswalk, and never in the middle of the block.
- Bikes should have lights and reflective devices to make them easier to see for drivers.
- Children should never use phones or ear buds while riding their bikes to or from school.
Children Hurt During School Activities
Children can also get hurt while on the school grounds, playing school sports for example. We have posted often on the risks for children involved in playing soccer, football, etc., where there is a high risk of head injury and concussion.
Parents should make sure that coaches and teachers are knowledgeable not only about safety precautions against head injuries in young adults (teenagers) and children, but that they are prepared to deal with head injuries by being alert to the signs and symptoms of a head injury or concussion in a child and trained in how to help a child who has, or may have, suffered a concussion.
In our next post, a discussion of what parents can do when their child has been seriously hurt during a school activity.