Many children will be walking and biking to school. Young children may not be aware how to handle traffic in a safe manner. You can help them by stressing they walk on sidewalks, where available, and cross at intersections. When riding a bike they must, by law, wear a helmet. The law, passed by the Manitoba legislature last year, requires people under 18 to wear helmets while riding a bicycle or risk a $50 fine.
All children should walk their bike across streets. When crossing at an intersection without signals they should stop before stepping into the road and look both ways before proceeding. Cross when the road is clear and walk, don’t run. If it is a controlled intersection push the “walk” button and wait for the “walk” sign to light up or the traffic light to turn green. If there is a crossing guard, then only cross when they indicate it is safe. Watch for turning vehicles and remember to Stop, Look and Listen.
Back to school means more children walking and biking on our streets so drivers must take special care and be alert especially in winter when it may be dark and there could be slippery conditions for both driver and pedestrians. Be aware of school zones and reduce speed to 30 km/hour even in jurisdictions where it is not yet the law. Be ready to stop at all times and be patient. Obey the crossing guard’s directions.
If your child is one of the many Manitoba children who must ride a school bus there are different safety challenges. Arrive five minutes early for the bus. Stand back from the road side away from traffic and wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before boarding. Use the handrail when getting on the bus. When on the bus never run, push, shout or throw things. Sit facing the front of the bus with your backpack by your feet. Eating and drinking are not allowed on school buses at any time. This protects students or drivers that have food allergies and helps maintain bus cleanliness.
When the bus stops remain in the seat until the bus comes to a complete stop. When you leave the bus, hold the handrail and take two large steps away from the bus. To cross the street in front of the bus, walk ahead at least ten giant steps (three metres). Cross only when the driver gives a signal. Proceed across the street, looking both ways for on-coming traffic. Cross the street in single file.
If everyone is getting off the bus, the people at the front leave first. Do not push.
If you drop something near the bus, do not pick it up. Tell an adult.
The 10 giant steps (or 3 metres) rule is a good measurement for children to identify the danger zone around the school bus, particularly when crossing in front of the bus. Children should never enter the danger zone unless the bus driver has given them permission. If a child can touch the bus, he or she is too close.
Remember – if you cannot see the bus driver, the bus driver cannot see you.
Have a safe school year.
Bill White has been associated with work place safety committees for 25 years in the government and the private sectors