Just like that, summer is in our rearview mirror and it’s back-to-school once again for our kids and grandkids. It’s time to dust off backpacks, pack lunchboxes and take extra precautions as our roads are once again filled with school buses, bike riders, and excited children with stories to tell about their summer vacations.
Before we send our young ones out the doors or hit the roads, I’d like to talk about something crucial: the safety of our kids—and I’d like to highlight how one local police force, the Alexandria Police, plans to keep our kids safe in the upcoming year. More on that in a moment.
First, let’s review some safety tips. These tips are for parents, students, and drivers. I urge you to read these over and discuss them with your family and kids. Some may seem obvious, but having top-of-the-mind awareness of these safety measures could just save a life.
- Plan safe routes to and from school. Take time to map out the best walking and biking routes with your kids. Look for sidewalks, crosswalks, and well-lit paths. Teach them to use these routes, follow traffic rules, and avoid shortcuts through alleys and unfamiliar areas.
- Teach your kids basic road safety rules, like looking left, right, and left again before crossing the street.
- Encourage them to walk to school with friends or neighbors. The buddy system adds an extra layer of safety and makes the journey a lot more fun.
- Remind your child: Stranger = Danger. Don’t talk to strangers, don’t accept anything from them, and never approach the vehicle of someone you don’t know.
- When choosing clothing for your hikers or bikers, pick bright and reflective colors. Oranges, pinks, greens, and blues look great, liven up the classroom and make your kids all that more visible to motorists. This is especially important during early mornings and late afternoons when visibility is reduced.
- Don’t forget helmets. For the bike riding, rollerblading, and skateboarding crew, helmets not only make cool accessories, but they also save lives.
- Take your time! There’s no need to rush if you leave a few minutes early each day. If your little ones run out the door five minutes late, they’re less likely to look both ways when they cross streets and more likely to make what could be a fatal mistake.
- For those riding the school bus, be patient. When the school bus arrives, wait for it to come to a complete stop before approaching. Always cross in front of the bus where the driver can see you.
- For those of you whose watch out for school zones, I thank you ahead of time for being vigilant this time of year, especially in residential areas. Keep your eyes off your phone and on the road. Mind the speed limits and keep an eye out for excited children who may dart out unexpectedly.
- Lastly, when you’re sharing a road with a school bus, be sure and stop behind the bus when those red lights start flashing and its stop arm extends. It’s the law, the right thing to do, and it just may save a life.
Recently I read about an initiative in place with the Alexandria police department aimed at keeping our kids safe this school year. The plan includes more police officers in the area before, during, and after school hours. For certain schools, student resource officers and staff will walk with students before and after school to keep our kids safe. They will be out in force in school zones and keeping an eye out for how motorists behave around school buses.
I commend these officers and our community for taking extra steps to see to it our kids have a fantastic school year. By working together and following routine safety tips, we can ensure a smooth and secure back-to-school experience for all. Here’s to a fantastic school year filled with learning, growth, and above all, safety!
Until next time, please be safe, and NEVER text while driving!
Attorney Paul Samakow
703-761-4343 or 301-949-1515.