Break Point's Big Back to School Issue
Loyola University Burn and Shock Trauma Institute,
Injury Prevention Program
Many people have often heard exaggerated stories of the
hardships their parents or grandparents had getting to school.
Stories of the ten-mile walks in the snow, with only one shoe on
and carrying their brother on their back. Today, the trip to
school is considerably easier. Children arrive at school in
various ways: by school bus, bicycle, walking or by car.
This month, Break Point will focus on getting our children off
to school safely. We encourage parents to review all these safety
tips with their children before school starts. School bus safety,
pedestrian safety, bicycle safety, teen driving tips and safely
traveling by car will be the topics focused on this month.
Break Point is produced by Loyola University, Burn and Shock
Trauma Institute Injury Prevention Program. Please call us at
(708) 327-2455 or email to: Kathy
O'Day with any comments or questions.
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Getting to School the Old-Fashioned Way: Walking
Discussing the new school year with friends while walking to
school can be fun. While children are walking to school, they
often get caught up in conversation and do not pay attention to
the traffic around them. In 1996, 5157 pedestrians were killed.
On a per mile basis, walking is more dangerous activity than
driving, flying, riding on a bus or train (Mean Streets 1998).
Review simple pedestrian safety tips with your children to help
them travel to and from school safely:
- Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk and
you have to walk on the side of the road, always walk FACING
- Dress to be seen. Wear brightly colored clothing so
drivers can see you during the daytime. At night, wear
reflective tape on you shoes, cap or jacket to reflect the
headlights of the cars coming towards you.
Tips for crossing the street:
- Cross only at corners or marked crosswalks.
- Stop at the curb, or the edge of the road.
- Stop and look left, then right and then left again, before
you step into the street.
- If you see a car, wait until it goes by, then look left,
then right and then left again then proceed to cross the
- If a car is parked where you are crossing, go to the
- Walk-do not run across the street.
- Children under 8 shouldn't cross the street alone.
- Don't walk while using a walkman.
- No horseplay while getting to school.
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School Buses: Know the Danger Zones
School buses are one of the safest ways our children get to
school. There are over 23 million children riding in school
buses each year to school and outside activities and the death
rates for kids in school bus crashes is less than .01%.
Children are at greater risk of being killed as a
pedestrian in a school bus loading zone than as a passenger in
a school bus.
The area around the bus is regarded as the "danger
zone." This zone is the area where children entering and
exiting the school bus are most likely to be struck by a
passing motor vehicle. Two-thirds of school-aged children die
in school bus related crashes each year not as passengers but
Children should be instructed on the safest way to
approach, board and exit the bus safely. It has been a long
summer and children may have forgotten the simple safety tips
they learned in the previous school year. The greatest
potential danger is not riding the bus; the danger
exists before children get on and after they get
off.Boarding the Bus
Before the bus arrives:
- Get to the bus stop at least five minutes early.
- Always walk on the sidewalk. Never run near a school
- When crossing the street, always look left, then
right, and left again. If there are parked cars, cross
the street at the nearest crosswalk.
Getting on the bus:
- When the bus approaches, stand three giant steps
away from the curb.
- Wait for the bus to stop. The driver will open the
door and signal to the children that it is OK to board
- If you should drop something near the bus, do not
pick it up until you tell the bus driver or the bus
has pulled away.
- When getting off the bus, quickly take your seat and
buckle up the seat belt.
Riding the school bus:
- Stay in the seat while the bus is moving.
- Try to keep quiet. No horseplay on the bus so the
driver can concentrate on the road.
Getting off the bus. Learn the three school bus danger
FRONT- Walk at least 5 giant steps ahead of the
bus before crossing in front of it.
SIDES- Never walk too close to the school bus. Stay
at least three giant steps away from the sides of the bus.
BEHIND- Never walk behind a school bus. The driver
is unable to see behind the bus.
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Teen Drivers- Novices Behind the Wheel
For a teen, getting their license is one step closer to
adulthood. For parents, it is a fear like no other they have
experienced before. Novice drivers are involved in more than
2 million non-fatal traffic crashes (1996-NHTSA statistics).
Many parents and teens have heard stories or have
experienced the heartache of fatal crashes involving a teen
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for
adolescents 15-20 years of age causing approximately
one-third of all fatalities in this age group. Inexperience,
immaturity and greater risk taking behaviors are some of the
reasons why young drivers have such poor driving
Illinois passed a graduated licensing law in 1999.
rationale for graduated licensing is that it allows for
increased time and experience behind the wheel of a car
before allowing fully independent privelages for day and
night. It allows more practice in developing driving skills
over an extended amount of time, leading to greater
experience, maturity and judgment. There is greater
motivation to practice safe driving skills and behavior by
requiring a crash-free/ conviction-free driving performance
prior to full licensing.
These 10 steps will help the novice driver become a more
- Make sure the teen has adequately met all of the
standards before they get their license.
- Use the 2-second drivers rule. Always keep at least 2
seconds between you and the car ahead of you. Wait at
least 2 seconds at an intersection after the light has
changed. Increase the length of time between you and the
car ahead of you in bad weather.
- Adjust for traffic conditions. Plan to avoid driving
in heavy traffic. Arrive 5 minutes before school and
leave 10 minutes after school lets out to avoid the
"mad dash" out of the school parking lot.
- Restrict the new driver to daytime driving at first,
then dusk, then advance to nighttime driving.
- Never drive mad. Bad grades, fights with
boyfriends/girlfriends or mom and dad can negatively
impact the new teen drivers performance.
- Change radio, cassette or CD's before you start to
drive (many new drivers have been involved in crashes
when they take their eyes off the road even for one
- Restrict the number of passengers. The chances of a
crash increase as the number of teens in the car
increases. Never look at a passenger or over the seat of
the car to talk while driving.
- Restrict eating and drinking while driving. Both hands
should remain on the wheel while driving.
- Parents monitor and continually evaluate your teens
driving habits and lead by example. Wear your seat belt
and follow the rules of the road.
- Avoid left turns in front of traffic. Judging the
distance and speed of oncoming traffic takes experience
and maturity it is best to turn at intersections with a
left turn signal in place.
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Bicycle Safety From Head to Toe
Thousands of children ride their bicycles to school
every day. According to the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration (NHTSA), three out of four bicycle
crashes results in head injuries. A bicycle helmet is just
as much a part of the bike as the handlebars or the wheels
but proper maintenance of the bicycle and navigating the
streets are equally important.
Bike riders should remember to follow these safety tips
when sending your child to school on their bicycle:
- Make sure the bicycle is in proper working order.
The bicycle must be the right size for the rider, the
seat is adjusted, the brakes are in proper working
order and the tires are inflated correctly.
- Always wear a bicycle helmet. Make sure the
helmet is fitted properly before they get on the bike.
If you ride recreationally, wear your helmet as well
children learn by example.
- Make sure they wear brightly colored clothing, so
motorists and pedestrians will be able to see them
- Keep a watchful eye when navigating the streets.
- Stop and look for traffic before entering the road.
Always stop at red lights and stop signs.
- Ride on the right side of the street with the flow
- Avoid riding at night.
- Use hand signals when changing lanes or turning.
Proceed carefully and obey all traffic signs and
- Walk your bicycle across busy intersections.
- Watch out for dangerous obstacles in the streets;
wet leaves, puddles of water, loose gravel, broken
glass or potholes in the road.
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Carpooling Your Precious Cargo
Carpooling is becoming one of the most popular ways
to get our children to school. Many parents often share
the responsibility of transporting children to school or
after school activities. Whether you are driving a few
blocks or a few miles, safety issues are of great
importance. Taking on the added responsibility of
getting not only your children but other children in the
car heightens safety concerns.
Child auto safety is as simple as ABC: Always
Buckle Children in the Backseat.
- Children 12 and under should ride in the back
seat. The safest place for children of any age to
ride is in the back seat.
- Children between 40 and 80 pounds should be
buckled in a booster seat.
- Younger children, less than 40 pounds should be
restrained in a properly fitted child safety seat.
- Babies, less than one year of age and less
than 20 pounds should be in infant seats in the
- The parents of the child you are transporting
should provide you with a car seat or booster.
- Parents should set a good example by buckling up
too! Everyone should buckle up with both lap and
shoulder belts on every trip.
- If a child must ride in the front seat, move the
front seat back as far as possible from the
dashboard and make sure the child is restrained
- If the seating arrangements in the car cannot
safely accommodate all of the passengers, you may
need to rearrange the carpooling agreement to
include additional drivers.
- Be aware that it's illegal in all 50 states to
have children unrestrained in the vehicle. You are
responsible and liable for your children and the
other children that ride with you.
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Coming Next Month in Injury Prevention
- National Fire Prevention week (10/3-10/9)
Breakpoint will devote issue to Fire Prevention.
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