It’s time again to focus on fitness. As preparations for the spring school term gear up and the holidays wind down, it’s a great time for parents and students to review ways to increase safety and prevent accidents. Whether your children ride a school bus or their bicycles to school, or you participate in carpool, here are some general safety tips to keep in mind as your family heads back to classes.
• Put away your phone. As a reminder, it’s illegal in California to use a handheld device while driving (except to use navigation or GPS apps, like Waze). Texting, writing emails, and talking on the cellphone are all dangerous distractions that cause unnecessary accidents on our roads.
• Plan your route. Have an idea of the route you plan to take before getting in your car. Try to take into account road closures or other delays that might negatively affect your stress levels as you drive.
• Give yourself enough time. Nobody likes to rush, and rushing while driving can have tragic consequences. Traffic congestion can be stressful in the morning, but don’t vent your frustration on the gas pedal. Give yourself enough time to get your children to school before the bell rings.
• Shortcuts Can Be Dangerous. Many schools border residential streets. Speeding down the adjacent residential street to beat traffic is a bad idea. It’s also the source of frequent complaints from neighbors. Alleys are not racetracks either, so please be very careful when entering or exiting an alley.
• Follow Crossing Guards’ Instructions and the School Zone Speed Limit. Be aware of the posted speed limit in the school zone. Be extra vigilant around the school campus, where children may be jaywalking. Always yield to a crossing guard or adult assisting students crossing the street.
• Stop For the School Bus. The stop signs on the side of the bus are the same as regular stop signs. If the bus is dropping off passengers, stop and wait. Do not attempt to pass the bus. Be extra careful for children who may dart out into traffic.
• Cross only at intersections. Do not jaywalk.
• Never run into the street. Ever.
• Exiting the School Bus. Children who exit the school bus to cross the street should do so in front of the bus, not behind it.
• Bicycles and Scooters. Everyone under 18 must wear a helmet while riding a bike or scooter. If riding at night, the bicycle must have functioning lights. Bicycle riding on the sidewalk is controversial, and while it’s legal in some circumstances, it does lead to many accidents. Riders must also stop at stop signs and red lights.
For the Carpool Line
Many parents participate in carpool. Here are a few tips for the carpool line.
• Put away your phone.
• Do not park illegally! It can cause a domino effect of traffic hazards and frustration for other drivers. Please be considerate of other parents. If you have retrieved your passengers, please do not hold up the line unnecessarily.
• Do not block alleys or driveways.
• Do not blare your horn! It’s possible you may have successfully loaded your children in your car, but there may be cars ahead of you that haven’t. Honking will not make them fulfill their objective any faster.
• Be extra vigilant. Children may run out unexpectedly from between parked cars. Make sure your childrens’ seat belts are fastened before you drive away.
Wishing all the students in our community a wonderfully successful new year.
Rabbi Michael Rubinstein is a personal injury attorney who represents clients in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. He can be reached by calling (213) 293-6075, or visiting www.rabbilawyer.com. Follow him on twitter