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It is that time of year again - back to school! This is an exciting time for some and a frustrating time for others. Whether you have children going to school or you will be fighting the increased traffic on your morning commute, we are all impacted. Below are some tips to ensure we all stay safe and have another wonderful school year!

FOR FAMILIES:
(The following information are excerpts from the American Academy of Pediatrics. You can read the entire post here.)

MAKING THE FIRST DAY EASIER

  • Remind your child that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. This may be at any age. Teachers know that students are nervous and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.
  • Point out the positive aspects of starting school. She'll see old friends and meet new ones. Refresh her positive memories about previous years, when she may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because she had a good time.
  • Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your student can walk to school or ride on the bus.

BACKPACK SAFETY

  • Choose a backpack with wide, padded shoulder straps and a padded back.
  • Pack light. Organize the backpack to use all of its compartments. Pack heavier items closest to the center of the back. The backpack should never weigh more than 10 to 20 percent of your child's body weight.
  • Always use both shoulder straps. Slinging a backpack over one shoulder can strain muscles.

TRAVELING TO AND FROM SCHOOL
Review the basic rules with your student:

School Bus

  • Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.
  • Remind your child to wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb.
  • Make sure your child walks where she can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see her, too).
  • Remind your student to look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required.

Car

  • Your child should ride in a car safety seat with a harness as long as possible and then ride in a belt-positioning booster seat. Your child is ready for a booster seat when she has reached the top weight or height allowed for her seat, her shoulders are above the top harness slots, or her ears have reached the top of the seat.
  • Your child should ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle's seat belt fits properly (usually when the child reaches about 4' 9" in height and is between 8 to 12 years of age). This means that the child is tall enough to sit against the vehicle seat back with her legs bent at the knees and feet hanging down and the shoulder belt lies across the middle of the chest and shoulder, not the neck or throat; the lap belt is low and snug across the thighs, not the stomach.
  • All children younger than 13 years of age should ride in the rear seat of vehicles. If you must drive more children than can fit in the rear seat (when carpooling, for example), move the front-seat passenger's seat as far back as possible and have the child ride in a booster seat if the seat belts do not fit properly without it.
  • Remember that many crashes occur while novice teen drivers are going to and from school. You should require seat belt use, limit the number of teen passengers, and do not allow eating, drinking, cell phone conversations,  texting or other mobile device use to prevent driver distraction. Limit nighttime driving and driving in inclement weather. Familiarize yourself with your state's graduated driver's license law and consider the use of a parent-teen driver agreement to facilitate the early driving learning process. For a sample parent-teen driver agreement, see www.healthychildren.org/teendriver

Bike

  • Always wear a bicycle helmet, no matter how short or long the ride.
  • Ride on the right, in the same direction as auto traffic.
  • Use appropriate hand signals.
  • Respect traffic lights and stop signs.
  • Wear bright-colored clothing to increase visibility. White or light-colored clothing and reflective gear is especially important after dark.

Walking to School

  • Make sure your child's walk to school is a safe route with well-trained adult crossing guards at every intersection.
  • Identify other children in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school.  In neighborhoods with higher levels of traffic, consider organizing a "walking school bus," in which an adult accompanies a group of neighborhood children walking to school.
  • Be realistic about your child's pedestrian skills. Because small children are impulsive and less cautious around traffic, carefully consider whether or not your child is ready to walk to school without adult supervision.
  • If your children are young or are walking to a new school, walk with them the first week or until you are sure they know the route and can do it safely.
  • Bright-colored clothing will make your child more visible to drivers.

FOR MOTORISTS:

(The following information are excerpts from the National Safety Council. You can read the entire post here.)

SHARING THE ROAD WITH PEDESTRIANS
  • Don't block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn, forcing pedestrians to go around you; this could put them in the path of moving traffic.
  • In a school zone when flashers are blinking, stop and yield to pedestrians crossing the crosswalk or intersection.
  • Always stop for a school patrol officer or crossing guard holding up a stop sign.
  • Take extra care to look out for children in school zones, near playgrounds and parks, and in all residential areas.
  • Never pass a vehicle stopped for pedestrians.
  • Always use extreme caution to avoid striking pedestrians wherever they may be, no matter who has the right of way.
SHARING THE ROAD WITH SCHOOL BUSES
  • Never pass a bus from behind – or from either direction if you're on an undivided road – if it is stopped to load or unload children.
  • If the yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, traffic must stop.
  • The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to allow them space to safely enter and exit the bus.
  • Be alert; children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks.
SHARING THE ROAD WITH BICYCLISTS
  • When passing a bicyclist, proceed in the same direction slowly, and leave 3 feet between your car and the cyclist.
  • When turning left and a bicyclist is approaching in the opposite direction, wait for the rider to pass.
  • If you're turning right and a bicyclists is approaching from behind on the right, let the rider go through the intersection first, and always use your turn signals.
  • Watch for bike riders turning in front of you without looking or signaling; children especially have a tendency to do this.
  • Watch for bikes coming from driveways or behind parked cars

We hope all of our customers and friends of Leal Insurance Services have a wonderful and safe school year! Remember to keep your cell phones hands free in San Antonio, but we encourage you to not use your phone at all in a school zone!


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NOTICE: This blog and website are made available by the publisher for educational and informational purposes only. It is not be used as a substitute for competent insurance, legal, or tax advice from a licensed professional in your state. By using this blog site you understand that there is no broker client relationship between you and the blog and website publisher.
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118 Broadway Street, Suite 621
San Antonio, TX 78205

Phone: (210) 277-7544
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