Back-to-school safety tips

Last updated: January 1

As the summer winds down, it’s time to think about the kids starting a new school year. Whether your children walk to school or take a bus, are starting kindergarten or high school, you want to keep them safe. Here are some helpful tips for back-to-school safety.

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Getting to and home from school: Tips for kids

From walking through the neighborhood to getting on the bus, these tips are meant to help kids get to school safely.


Parents may want to practice walking to school with kids to help teach them how to do so safely, recommends the National Safety Council (NSC). Also, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says children younger than 10 years old should be accompanied by an adult when walking to school.

While walking:

  • Use sidewalks and crosswalks. When there isn't a sidewalk, walk on the edge of the street and face traffic, says the NHTSA.
  • Before crossing a street, stop and look left, right and then left again to be sure no cars are coming, says the NSC.
  • Do not walk while talking on the phone, texting or wearing headphones, says the NSC. You don't want to be distracted near traffic, and you should be able to hear approaching vehicles.


Riding a bike can be a fun way to get to school, but there are a few safety tips bike riders should follow:

  • Always wear a helmet, says the NHTSA. Make sure it fits properly and that the chin strap is fastened.
  • Ride single file on the right side of the road (going the same direction as traffic), says the NSC. The NHTSA says bike riders need to obey all traffic signs and signals.
  • Use bike lanes whenever they are available, says the NHTSA. If riding on the sidewalk, use caution near pedestrians, says the NSC.
  • Use hand signals to alert other riders and drivers when you are going to stop or turn, says the NSC.
  • Walk the bike across streets, recommends the NSC.

Taking the bus

To help stay safe while on or around school buses, follow these tips from the NHTSA:

  • At the bus stop:
    • Stay at least 6 feet away from the curb.
    • Do not run around while waiting.
  • Getting on and off the bus:
    • Wait for the bus to stop completely and for the door to open.
    • Only get on or off the bus once the driver says it is OK.
    • Once seated, always face forward.
    • Use seat belts when they are available, says the NSC.
  • Near the bus:
    • Do not cross behind a school bus.
    • If you need to cross in front of the bus, make sure you are at least 10 feet in front of the bus before crossing.
    • Tell the driver if you drop something near the bus. Do not lean down to pick it up, as the bus driver may not be able to see you.

Sharing the road: Tips for motorists

Drivers should use extra caution in school zones, especially at drop-off and pick-up times. The NSC recommends that drivers:

  • Yield to pedestrians and bike riders in crosswalks, and never block crosswalks.
  • Do not pass a vehicle waiting for pedestrians to cross.
  • Do not pass a school bus that is picking up or dropping off children
  • Leave enough space between your vehicle and the bus for children to safely enter and exit.
  • Always stop for a school staff or crossing guard directing traffic and holding up a stop sign.

The start of a new school year is an exciting time. With a little knowledge and some planning, we can all help our kids get to school and home again safely.