September begins a new school year for many of our youngsters- some are lucky enough to already to have been in school for a couple of weeks. New football season, new classes and new friends- a time to enjoy being young. As parents we can take some steps that help insure these happy years do not end too soon.
Driving in a school zone.>
Most school zones are clearly marked. In cities the speed limit is usually 20mph; in the more rural areas it is usually 35mph. These speed limits are posted so that you have ample time to stop when the unexpected happens- a child follows a ball into the street and forgets to check for traffic; a skateboarder looses his balance and falls into the street; a youngster thinks he can beat your car through the intersection. A group of kids ran across the street in front of my car. I had slowed considerably and Iím sure they thought there was nothing to fear. One boy slipped on the gravel and I watched him disappear below the hood line. I stopped sharply. He got up uninjured but he was ashen and I was shaken. Always be prepared for the unexpected.
Many cities have outlawed the use of cell phones (without hands-free operation) in school zones. Check with your local laws. It could be a pretty good size ticket. Even if there is no law against this type of cell phone use, think very hard about using the cell phone in a school zone- any distraction can be delay your reaction time.
Texting while driving
This applies to both parents and Venture age students. The Governors Highway Safety Association endorses a texting while driving ban for all drivers. They have recommended laws similar to the seat belt laws be passed in each state. Most reports state that you are 8 to 20 times more likely to have an accident if you are texting while driving. I have included a link to a Public Service Announcement relating to texting while driving. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGE8LzRaySk (You need to cut and paste the address- the link at the bottom of the page doesn't connetc properly) It is a re-enactment of an accident that happened in the UK. It is very powerful but very graphic. The price of texting is high, not only for the driver and the people in the car but for other people on the highway as well.
After school activities
Sports, band, cheerleading and many activities take place after school. In September there is usually still plenty of daylight and students participating in these activities can be easily seen. But as the days get shorter these youngsters will often be walking at twilight or dusk. They will be hard to see and they will have trouble seeing your car. Drive with the headlights on and be extra careful a twilight. Visibility is greatly reduced at this time of day.
Writing about safety hazards and problems is not a pleasant task. I have been fortunate enough to have had all of my children make it safely through their school years. I know they did some stupid things and I did some stupid things growing up. We were lucky. By all of us working together we can help make other kids are lucky too.