Back-to-school – while the sweet, slow days of summer have passed, for most parents, the “back-to-school” season is a welcomed transition to structure and a house not quite as full of kids all day. This annual fresh beginning of opportunities also comes with lots of excitement and many distractions.

In this season, daily routines are not just changing for your family, but also for your entire community, as drivers must get used to stopping for school buses again and parents race to drop of their children before a tardy slip ensues. As a result, there are many increased risks on the road to drivers, school buses, pedestrians, bikers, and most especially, children.

elementary student in classWith nearly 20 years of experience representing injury victims, the team of attorneys at Hicks Law Firm in Costa Mesa has seen a thing or two. As you purchase school supplies, get those last-minute haircuts, and stock up on school snacks and juice boxes, be sure to also carve out time to review our top back-to-school safety tips, so you and your family can have a safe and successful back-to-school season.

Tip #1: Don’t shy away from parenting teen drivers.

According to the CDC, car accidents are the second cause of teenage deaths, so it makes sense to start our list here. Every teen driver is different, so this tip is meant to remind and empower you to be attentive to the advice and supervision that your teen needs.

You probably know that your teen must be at least 16 years of age to obtain a driver’s license in California; however, that does not necessarily mean they have the wisdom to always make good driving decisions. One of your many jobs as a parent is to protect your children from their own poor judgment and see around the corners that they can’t see around.

Maybe your teen habitually sleeps in late and barely makes it out the door in time to get to school. If they are driving to school, remind your teen of the risks of speeding and that they must build in some extra time to get to school. Also, remind your teen that it is better to arrive late and alive than to risk their safety and the safety of those driving around them to avoid a tardy mark.

Perhaps, like nearly every other teenager in America, your teen is glued to their phone. Aside from speaking to your teen and implementing consequences for not following your rules on no texting and driving, you can also use phone apps that will prevent your teen from texting while driving.

If it’s not texting that is distracting your teen, it might be the old-fashioned distraction of too many passengers. Distracted driving caused over 3,000 fatal car crashes in 2020 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). When teens do not have any other passengers in the vehicle while driving, the fatality rate of their accidents goes down by 21%. You know your teen. If passengers are a danger to their safe driving, then it’s time to be their parent rather than their friend and implement a no passenger rule.

Tip #2: Practice good bus-stop safety.

school busAlways walk young children to the bus stop and stay with them until the bus arrives. Older children may be able to walk to the bus by themselves, but only if the road and walkway permit them to do so safely. If the path to the bus does not have a wide sidewalk and especially if it had tight turns that a driver or pedestrian cannot see around very well, it might not be a safe route for your child to walk alone.

Even along relatively safe paths, consider driving your child to the bus stop or driving them to school on days when the weather is bad, and drivers’ visibility is poor due to rain and/or fog.

If your child’s walk to the bus stop or school involved crossing the street, ensure that there is a crossing guard present before you allow them to go. If it is impossible to avoid crossing a street without a crossing guard, practice the route with your child before school starts, taking the time to explain where they should be extra careful of cars. Of course, remind your child only to cross a busy road when the pedestrian sign is illuminated, signaling that is it safe to do so, but also remind them to look out for cars that may not be slowing down as they should and to make eye contact with the drivers near the crosswalk whenever possible to ensure that they see the child.

Tip #3: Be a “back-to-school” aware driver yourself.

Whether you are driving your children to school or driving in your community alone, we can all use a reminder to slow down and be aware of our surroundings. There are many noticeable changes on the roads once school is in session. We all need to get used to looking out for school buses, stopping a generous distance away from a school bus when children are loading and unloading, NEVER passing a school bus, being extra vigilant to come to a complete stop at every stop sign, and always being aware of your surroundings while driving.

You never know when a child is going to run out in the middle of the road or begin crossing a crosswalk when you have a green light. It is your responsibility to look out for those children and be able to stop safely and avoid an accident.

Accidents & Injuries Happen at School

It is a heartbreaking reality that every year, California experiences numerous accidents involving students, pedestrians, and school buses during the back-to-school season. We wish you and your children a safe and successful return to school. If you or someone you love is injured in an accident due to the negligence of someone else, our personal injury lawyers are here to support you in recovering the damages you are entitled to.