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Put Traffic Safety on Back-to-School 'To-Do' List: Experts

SUNDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- As schools open for another year, students, parents and drivers are urged to keep traffic safety in mind.

In 2010, more than 2,800 school-aged children were killed in traffic-related crashes, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Most of those deaths occurred in the afternoon, between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

A nationwide traffic safety campaign called "Think Safe, Ride Safe, Be Safe!" encourages students to take the following safety precautions when traveling to school by foot, bike, bus or car.

When traveling by school bus:

  • Keep away from the curb. Take five giant steps from the road and wait until the school bus driver says to board before approaching the vehicle.
  • Once on the bus, go straight to your seat, sit facing forward and follow the instructions of the bus driver.
  • Look both ways for cars as you exit the bus. Once you are off the bus, take five giant steps from the vehicle.
  • If it is necessary to cross the street, look left-right-left to make sure no cars are coming and wait for the driver to signal it's safe to cross.

When walking to school:

  • Walk on the sidewalk when possible. If there is no sidewalk, keep off the road as much as possible and walk facing traffic.
  • Don't engage in horseplay. Never push or shove others when you're walking near a road.
  • If you need to cross the street, use a crosswalk if you can. Look left-right-left for cars and do not cross if a car is coming. Wait for traffic to come to a full stop.

When cycling to school:

  • Always wear a helmet and don't forget to buckle the chin strap.
  • Ride on bike paths or on the sidewalk, not in the street.

Parents who drive their children to school or daycare should secure each child in the proper child safety seat, booster seat or seat belt, depending on the child's age and size. Before locking the doors and leaving the car, adults are reminded to make sure that no child has been accidentally left in the vehicle, the NHTSA experts stress in an agency news release.

And, of course, all vehicle occupants -- including adults and teen drivers -- are urged to buckle up. The NHTSA says that the best way to avoid serious injury or death in a crash is to always keep your seat belt fastened.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about travel safety for kids.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, news release, Sept. 5, 2012

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