Back to School Safety August 13, 2018
If you have a child or teenager, chances are your family is gearing up for the impending school season. However, buying school supplies and figuring out a schedule are not the only important things to consider: it is also essential to take steps to ensure that children and adolescents remain safe this school year.
Back to School Hazards
When it comes to returning to school, there are a few dangers which every family should be aware of. Some examples of these hazards include:
- School buses that are unsafe due to manufacturing defects or resulting from a lack of seatbelts;
- Communicable illnesses, especially if a child is not up-to-date on vaccinations;
- Accidents and collisions involving children and teens who bicycle, walk, and/or drive to school, and:
- Injuries on school grounds, such as ones that happen on playgrounds, while playing school sports, and even strains from wearing a backpack
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teenage drivers are the most at-risk age group out of all other drivers on the road. Every day, approximately nine drivers between the ages of 16 to 19-years-old die in car accidents, and each year almost 300,000 more are injured. Talking to teen drivers about the serious risks and responsibilities that come with driving is crucial to prevent deadly accidents. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers, so if you would like to learn more about how to talk to your child, please visit the National Safety Council’s (NSC) blog on “Driving it Home”: https://www.nsc.org/driveithome.
School Bus Safety
Nearly 3 million American kids ride buses to and from school daily. Although school buses are designed to be safe and intended to limit serious injuries from happening, an average of 17,000 children are still injured every year. Even though school bus accidents happen, lawmakers have failed to implement effective safety measures, such as ones that require manufacturers to install seatbelts. Installing seatbelts on buses that transport children to and from schools seems like a common-sense approach to child safety.
There are other risks associated with school buses that parents should talk to their children and teens about:
- Make sure to stand on the sidewalk (at least 6 feet away) when a bus is approaching;
- Try to avoid crossing in front of a bus, since visibility is usually limited;
- If a bus does have seatbelts, make sure to wear one, and:
- Observe all posted bus rules and guidelines;
Pedestrians and Bicyclists
A major threat that bicyclists, pedestrians, drivers, and bus riders each face is being distracted when they should be paying attention to what they are doing. Kids and teens who bike or walk to school need to be just as aware about not being distracted as drivers should be. Recent data suggests that as many as 6,000 pedestrians were fatally injured in 2017, and the CDC reports that more than 1,000 bicyclists died in 2015.
It likely comes as no surprise that one of the biggest contributors to distraction is a cell phone. Data suggest that as many as 88% of all teens between 13 and 17-years-old have access to a cell phone or have their own phones. If you are a parent or caregiver to a child or teen that bikes or walks to school, here are some helpful safety tips:
- Every bicyclist should wear a helmet;
- Bicyclists and pedestrians should avoid using their cell phones;
- Listening to music can prevent someone from paying attention to his or her surroundings, so be sure to unplug before walking or biking, and:
- For younger kids especially, it is critical to practice how to safely wait at stop signs and traffic lights, as well as looking both ways before crossing a street
The CDC says that every preteen and teenager needs a flu vaccine annually, and the Center recommends more vaccinations depending on the person’s age. The CDC recommends that parents consider these vaccines also:
- Tdap, which is a booster that protects against tetanus, diphtheria, and whooping cough;
- HPV vaccine, which can prevent infections that are linked to certain cancers, and:
- Meningococcal conjugate vaccine, which guards against the potentially fatal infection meningitis, as well as other fatal blood infections
To read more about recommended annual vaccinations from the CDC, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/features/catchupimmunizations/index.html.
What More can you do?
Grownups should do their part to keep kids and teens safe. One of the basic truths when it comes to child and adolescent behavior is that kids are prone to imitating what they see adults do. For example, teens that were polled about driving reported that when their parents video chat or text behind the wheel, that it increased the chances of them doing it when they drive. This means that adults should be careful to take all the precautions that they preach, including avoiding driver, pedestrian and bicyclist-related distractions, using safety equipment like seatbelts and helmets, and obeying all posted speed limits and laws.
If you are a parent or caregiver who has questions about injuries that your child sustained at school or are considering litigation because of safety hazards on school grounds, please contact a representative at our firm who may be able to help.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Representing Accident Victims Since 1947
At Galfand Berger, our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers are experienced in representing injury victims. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.