It’s hard to believe that school will be starting in just a few days. As usual, summer flew by and we’ve found ourselves on the brink of another exciting semester! Kids everywhere are excited to use their new school supplies, and parents are grateful to have a little silence back in the house.
At D&R Autoworks, we love our students and want to make sure they are safe and prepared for the year ahead. That’s why this month we’ve been blogging about matters other than auto issues. Instead, we’ve been doing what we can to help parents and kids get ready for school by using our car-minded wisdom to help prepare them for the year ahead.
This week, we’re talking about crosswalk safety. Many schools have crossing guards who help kids make it from one side to the other, but that doesn’t always prevent disaster. Inattentive motorists, disobedient children and basic random accidents make crosswalks a place where there is always the potential for danger. With a little preparation, however, your kids will be far more likely to make it across the street with ease and safety.
To start, we encourage you parents out there to talk with your children. Explain what a crosswalk is and what it’s designed to do. By definition a crosswalk is a lane marked off for pedestrians to use when crossing a street. They are marked with white or yellow lines that run parallel to each other and are typically found at intersections. (You probably knew that. We just wanted to clarify.)
When it comes to using a crosswalk, there are several universal rules that must be followed. First, let your kids know how important it is to look both ways before stepping into the street. Make sure that traffic is clear and that it’s safe to leave the curb. Like we said, some schools will have designated personnel at busy crosswalks who stop traffic at certain times of the day. If that is the case, make sure your kids know to obey the signals of these crossing guards while still using their own eyes to evaluate the situation.
If your children are using a crosswalk that is unmonitored, say closer to your home, be sure that they know the rest of the rules. Yes, look both ways, but don’t just look once; keep looking as you cross the street. Don’t assume that any car will stop, either. If a car is approaching, pedestrians do have the right of way in a marked crosswalk, but that’s not a guarantee that they will. Encourage your children to proceed with caution and to establish eye contact with the driver when possible. Make sure your kids know to remain on the curb until each car comes to a complete stop.
Another important tip, especially with today’s culture, is to make sure your children are not wearing ear buds or listening to music when they are using crosswalks. This is highly dangerous as it prevents them from hearing oncoming traffic. Make sure they know to remove the ear buds and pay attention when crossing the street. After all, a Toyota Prius is virtually silent!
Finally, while pedestrians have the right of way most of the time in marked crosswalks, there are signals that must be followed at many busy intersections. Make sure your children know what the signs mean and when it is safe to cross. Help them learn how to use the buttons and to read the timed countdown if one is presented.
For more information, we encourage you to check out the pedestrian crosswalk guide published by the Illinois Department of Transportation. It is a helpful PDF that explains the state rules and can help you, in turn, explain them to your children.
At the end of the day, all of us have the same goal in mind: the safety of our kids. School should be a fun and educational experience, and getting to and from can be part of that process. Encourage them to obey the rules and to proceed with caution. Then, rest assured that you’ve done your best and that they will do theirs. And know that if there’s any way we at D&R Autoworks can help, we’ll always be here to do our best too.