Back to School Safety
At the end of the summer, families get ready for a new school year. A part of this process should be to learn the safest route for your children to go to school.
Sit down with your child and plan out the route. Then take that route to school with your child and discuss it along the way. In this way, you can assess your child's ability to get to school safely along that route and if you need to make any changes to your plan.
Your school, PTA, and the City of Palo Alto have additional resources to help you make safe decisions for your child. Take a class on how to raise bicyclists or a class for your child on how to be a good bike rider. Remember, getting your child out of the family car to walk or bike to school will provide them with healthy habits and better skills for when they are new drivers.
Elementary School Students
For most elementary school children, their local school is close enough for them to walk, bike, or scooter to and from home. Most families discover that it is really less time consuming and more fun to walk than battling the school's drop-off zone or trying to find a parking space.
It is also a good time to establish good health habits and start to build skills that will be valuable for the rest of their lives. We do not recommend any child under 10 years of age to commute alone.
Middle School Students
Most Middle School students can commute on their own to and from school. It is important to review their route for safety hazards and go with them on a trial run. Only the family can make the final decision if their student can commute safely on their own.
Use your local PTA Traffic Safety Representative for tips and tricks about commuting to your middle school. They will have important information to make it fun and safe while your student gains added independence and important life long skills.
High School Students
It is very important to review safety issues with your High School student. There are so many things that they do independently but its critical to ensure their safety and others as they commute during one of the busiest and most congested time of the day.
Don't rush. Build time into their schedule to get to school in enough time. This means getting enough sleep and leaving on time. If your student does find that they are "late" then speeding and commuting recklessly will lead to more problems than it will resolve. Help reinforce good, safe habits.
Use your helmet properly every time. The law requires that everyone under the age of 18 to wear a helmet. Proper use of a helmet can prevent serious injury in most cases. Make it a rule - always use a helmet.
Enforce the Graduated Drivers License laws. New drivers (less than one year of experience) cannot take friends to school (including siblings) without an adult passenger in the car. Research has proven that unsupervised driving teens can be a deadly combination. Please support the law.
Parking Lot Hazards (especially, blind spots while in reverse). Most accidents involving student injury occur around school. Many of these accidents are because the driver was backing up and didn't see the pedestrian. Caution all your children to be especially careful in all parking lots...especially those around school.