National Walk to School Day
You may notice an increase in children walking to school next week. National Walk to School Day is October 2, 2019. The movement encourages communities to promote health and safer routes for students to walk to school. Children pose a special traffic problem because of their unpredictability. You should exercise extreme caution when driving by schools, parks, and through residential streets. Keep your speed down, scan the sides of the roads, and be prepared to stop at any time.
In California, unless otherwise posted, the speed limit is 25 mph within 500 to 1,000 feet of a school while children are outside or crossing the street. Some cities throughout California have adopted lower speed limits in school zones and have posted signs showing the speed as low as 15 mph.
‘Look Before You Lock’ PSA from KidsAndCars.org is a good reminder to not leave children in cars in order to avoid heatstroke fatalities. In a new study, Consumer Reports found that, “Even on days with mild temperatures, the heat inside a closed vehicle can reach dangerous levels within an hour, posing major health risks to small children or pets left inside.”
For additional tips and information, check out our past posts Vehicular Heatstroke and Supervision Required.
Summer is winding down and this Car Care Council video has great tips not only for Back to School carpoolers but for any driver getting ready for the changing season. Check it out!
On average in the United States, 37 children die from heatstroke each year as a result of being left in a vehicle. Between 1990 and 2016 there have been a total of 793 vehicular heatstroke deaths. Over half (55%) are a result of being left behind unknowingly by a parent or caregiver. Another 28% occurred due to a child getting into the vehicle on their own.
According to KidsAndCars.org, 27 children have died in hot cars so far this year. The KidsAndCars.org safety campaign, “Look Before You Lock,” provides parents and caregivers an important safety checklist aimed at preventing heatstroke tragedies.
Avoid leaving your child alone in the car:
- Get in the habit of always opening the back door and checking the back seat before leaving your vehicle.
- Put something you will need, like a purse or a cell phone, in the back seat so you will have to open the back door to get it once you are parked.
- Keep a stuffed animal in baby’s car seat. Each time your child is in the car seat, put the stuffed animal in the front seat as a reminder that baby is in the car.
- Ask your child care provider to call if you have not dropped your child off as usual.
Make sure your child can’t get into your car:
- Keep your vehicle locked at all times, even in your garage or driveway.
- Keep your keys and clickers in a safe place out of your child’s reach.
- If your child goes missing, check inside your vehicle and trunk right away.
Child Passenger Restraints
January 1st, 2017 ushers in new laws and regulations. In California one new law affecting motorist and parents will require child passengers under the age of two to be secured in rear-facing child safety seats.
Transporting children in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats, or seat belts is key to keeping kids safe on the road. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), child safety seats lower the risk of fatal injury for infants (under 1 year old) by 71% and by 54% for toddlers (1 to 4 years old) in passenger cars.
NHTSA recommends using a Rear-Facing Car Seat for as long as possible: age 0 to 3 years or once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat. Rear-facing seats are the safest way to transport a child as in a crash the impact force is more evenly distributed along the outer shell of the seat, keeping the child’s neck and spine in line.
Be sure to read the instruction manual for your child safety seat as well as your vehicle owner’s manual on car seat installation. Check height and weight limits of the car seat and never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat or in front of an active airbag.
School Bus Passenger Tips
School is starting all across the country. Now is a good time to teach, or remind, your little ones about school bus safety.
- When waiting at the bus stop, stay on the sidewalk, away from the road. Pay attention to what is going on around you. Don’t get distracted by playing with your friends.
- When getting on the bus, find a seat promptly and sit down facing the front of the bus. Sit still and talk quietly with your neighbor. Don’t distract the bus driver with a lot of ruckus. Let them do their job safely driving you to school.
- When exiting the bus, be aware of passing cars. Put distance between you and the bus so the bus driver will be able to see you. Stay away from the wheels of the bus and remember to cross in front of the bus, not behind it.
No time to read a long-winded BLOnG? Welcome to the Three-Second-Stop mini-Blog.
Today’s Three Seconds: School Bus Safety
Laws vary by state, be sure to consult your local DMV for your state regulations. However in most states, when a school bus is stopped with red flashing lights to load or unload passengers, vehicles traveling in either direction are required to stop. They must remain stopped until the lights are no longer flashing. Generally the only exception is for traffic traveling in the opposite direction of the school bus on a road divided by a physical barrier.
Why You Shouldn’t Leave Your Kids Alone in the Car
Sure, you’re only dropping some mail off at the post office, grabbing some milk from the grocery store, or picking up the dry cleaning. I mean there’s no harm in that right, especially when it only requires a couple minutes of your time, so leaving your child in the car for just a moment should be fine, right? Wrong! According to Safe Kids, 30 children die each year when they are left unsupervised in the car. It only takes seconds for something horrific to happen.
Not only is it scary for a small child to be left alone, but your vehicle’s temperature can change dramatically, and very quickly, which can affect your child’s oxygen levels, and in some cases causing hyperthermia and/or suffocation.
Aside from temperature changes, inadvertent gear-shift crashes, locking parents out of the car, trunk entrapments, or getting limbs caught in the windows, are just some of the many possible dangers leaving a child unattended in a vehicle could lead to. This is considered a misdemeanor offense; the offense can become a felony if there are resulting injuries.
Waking up a sleeping child or getting a toddler out of a car seat in the freezing cold or rain can be quite a hassle, so it’s understandable why many parents fall victim to this. But, if you need money, find a drive through ATM. If you need gas, use a credit card at the pump, or find a full-service station. Whatever you do, just don’t leave your child in the car alone!
When kids are present, School Zones are Slow Zones. Here’s some simple advice to keep the kids, and your driving record, safe:
- When entering a marked school zone, your foot should be covering the brake pedal and your eyes scanning the road. You know how kids can be: they’ll jump out of nowhere and run across the street when you least expect it.
- Regardless if it’s a school day or not, when children are in sight, school zones require you to follow the posted 25mph or slower speed limit. For example, if it’s a Saturday night at 10pm and you are in a school zone when kids are present (maybe a school dance just let out), you still need to adjust your speed and obey the slower school zone speed limit.
When you slow down for children, you not only make yourself a safe driver, you also help alert other unaware drivers who may not see the obstacles you see. When they see you slowing down, their driving intuition will kick in and they will follow your safe-driving lead.