Keep Safety in Mind as Kids Head Back-to-School

For thousands of kids in the Chicago area, today marks the first day of a new school year. Some are excited and looking forward to meeting their teachers and seeing their friends. Others are dreading the end of summer and the freedom they enjoyed when they did not have to attend class every day. Regardless, though, the Chicago landscape is transitioning today as kids move from a routine of flexibility to one of structure with school at its center.

If you are a parent of a school-aged child, it is a good idea to talk about pedestrian accidents, bicycle collisions, and other injuries to children and minors this week as they are more common in Illinois at the start of a school year. But realize that even if you are not a parent, back-to-school still affects you as the influx of children on city buses, trains, and streets will have an impact on your transit plans.

If your children will be walking to a bus stop or to school, consider the following tips and discuss their walking habits with them so that your children can remain as safe as possible in Illinois:

  • Stick to a Route: Kids, especially preteens and teens, may want to make a detour from time to time while they are walking. Perhaps they want to walk by a friend’s house or they want to head to a convenience store before classes begin but for their sake, sticking to an approved route is the best way to go. This way, they can walk in an area with the least amount of traffic, the best sidewalks, and the safest crossings so that they can limit their interactions with vehicles. Further, if your kids stick to a specific route to and from school, you will know where they are in the event if you need to find them.
  • Always Use Sidewalks: Sidewalks run along the majority of the streets in Chicago and with good reason: so many kids and adults walk in the city that they are needed to keep pedestrians safe and to help the flow of vehicular traffic on the roadways. If a sidewalk is present, open, and available, always have your children use that sidewalk unless it would be dangerous to do so. It is never a good idea to walk in the street if your kids do not have to and doing so will make it more likely that they will be involved in a car accident.
  • Obey Pedestrian Signals and Crossing Guards: Pedestrian signals and crossing guards serve an important purpose in keeping school children safe. Make sure your kids understand the roles of these aids and that your kids obey them at all times. Crossing only when it is safe to do so will go a long way to ensuring your child’s safety.
  • Wait for the Bus: Some children ride either a CTA bus, regional transit but, or a school bus and must walk to get to their bus stop. While it may be tempting for an excited child to run out and meet the bus, make sure your kids understand that they should wait at the bus stop in a safe location until the bus comes to a complete stop near them. Once the door opens, your child can board the bus, take a seat, and travel safety to her school.
  • Stay Visible: Kids who wear brightly colored clothing, who walk in the open, and who have reflective fabric on their clothing or backpacks are more likely to be noticed by passing cars and therefore less likely to be accident victims. While darkness is not a concern yet, it will be soon as the days shorten. Make sure you dress your child appropriately so that he can be seen from a distance and will not have to worry about traffic.

Hopefully your children will have a safe and uneventful year traveling to and from school but if an accident happens, know that you and your family may have the legal right to seek relief for your damages through a personal injury claim.

Prior Blog Entry:

Heavy Traffic, Accidents Expected over Labor Day Weekend, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published September 2, 2016.

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