Back to School Tips: Slow Down! - Neufeld, Kleinberg & Pinkiert, PA | a personal injury law firm
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Back to School Tips: Slow Down!

While the delightful smell of barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs still sifts through the air on weekends and plenty of people are still flocking to the beaches, it won’t be too long before everyone starts making way for pumpkin picking and apple gathering. These signs also mean that students and teachers will soon return to school.

Back-to-School and Driving Safety

As the new school year winds up, most people have a suitable plan for getting through the morning. Children are ready with their new notebooks, college students promise that this semester will be the one where they get a 4.0 and teachers are excited for their new lesson plans. However, within a month or so, many start to lose focus, and their morning routines become crammed with little odds and ends. As a result, everyone is racing to school, and serious or even fatal car crashes can occur as a result.

Slow Down

Ultimately, vehicles on the road need to slow down, and this is particularly necessary when they drive through school zones and residential areas. The morning frenzy is responsible for injuring and killing individuals, including children, every year, so people really need to take the time to think about what they are doing. Cameras to catch people who have violated speeding rules in school zones are starting to pop up, but that doesn’t mean everyone is going to drive more slowly. To drive slower in the morning, individuals need to take the time to craft a routine and think about what they are doing.

Have a Morning Plan

Speeding often manifests as the result of a hurried and harried morning. Figuring out what you need to do each morning and keeping a list for yourself is an effective way to delete some of this pandemonium. Decide what time the kids are going to give up, and schedule a few minutes in for extra sleep. Also, you don’t need to do everything in the morning. Set out your clothes the night before, and consider making an overnight breakfast in the slow cooker so that you don’t have to worry about it when you get up.

Assign Responsibilities

Every single morning task does not need to fall onto your plate. For example, if you have pre-teens, make it their responsibility to be in-charge of getting the younger children ready in the morning. In days gone by, this is how many households operated, and there is nothing wrong with giving your children more responsibility. Divide up the morning tasks with your partner as well. Make sure that both of you know who is driving the kids to school that morning, and give yourself a few extra minutes to leave.

Wake up Earlier

So many problems associated with this topic could be resolved if people would just wait up earlier. You don’t need to get out of bed hours before the sun goes down, but you can train yourself to have a little bit more time each morning. Go through the process slowly. For example, start by setting your alarm clock for 10 minutes earlier. Once you are used to that, you can move on to 15 minutes earlier and so forth. By moving back your wake-up time in increments, your body and mind can become use to it over a progression period.

Take Your Time

Upon waking up, you might find yourself flying through the morning routine. Not only does this mean that you probably forget things once in awhile, but it also sets up the frame of mind you are going to be in for at least the first part of the day. If you are rushing around the house to get ready, then you are likely rushing to your car and rushing to get to school and work. By taking your time, which comes from giving yourself more time to begin with, you can prevent this potentially dangerous frenzy.

Consider Public Transportation

Perhaps you are so frenzied in the morning because you know that you’re going to have to sit in traffic if you leave the house even just five minutes late, or perhaps you are exhausted and cannot even drive the car properly. Instead of taking these dangerous paths to get to where you’re going, consider public transportation. A bus or train can get you to work without the hassle. On mornings when you are

feeling really exhausted and as though you absolutely cannot focus, do not feel shameful taking a taxi for safety reasons.

Know and Understand the Dangers

One of the biggest problems is that people do not think the dangers are real. They do not see how detrimental driving a car too quickly in a school zone can be. You don’t want to have to wait for a real tragedy to happen in your own life to understand how serious these issues are. Look up news stories online about tragedies that have happened because people did not pay enough attention to the issues. Don’t close your ears and turn around when someone starts talking about a child in the community who was killed by a reckless driver. Realize that you are contributing to the overall issue and need to stop.

Pay Attention to the Road

You also are not helping the problem when you don’t know where you are and what you are driving through. Always know the speed limit. Recognizing what the speed limit states is part of your responsibility as a driver. Understand why the speed limits are lower in school zones. When you speed, any accident that you are in becomes more dangerous. The lower the speed you are going, the less likely you are, in general, to cause fatalities or serious injuries if something does happen.

Look for Little Ones

Not only do you have to keep your eyes open for signs and limits on the road, but you also need to train yourself to pay attention to children who might dart into the street. Whenever you are in an area where there are a lot of kids, you should be going slower anyway. Know that if an animal, toy or ball goes into the road, a decent chance exists that a child is going to follow closely behind. Keeping your eye out for children, and practicing how to do so, will teach you to be more safe.

Be a Good Walker

Unfortunately, no matter how much effort you put into your own driving safety, you cannot predict what other people are going to do. Whether you walk your children to school every day or you only take that stroll once in awhile, you need to know how to look out for the signs. Always stop before you are going to cross the street, and be sure to go to a crossing guard if possible. On top of that, use your own judgment. Do not cross extremely busy streets if another option is available for example.

Teach Your Children Skills

Not only do you want to ensure that you are safe on the road and when walking, but, more importantly, you want to instill these same values in your children. Tell them all about safety and the rules of the road, and teach them how to walk safely. However, it is not enough to just say these things to your children; you need to practice them as well. When you are walking, show them the skills that you are using so that they can see you actually practice what you say.

Children Walking Independently

At some point, your children are going to want to walk to school by themselves. It’s up to your decision-making skills as to when this time is going to come, but no matter how old they are, you need to remind them of everything that you taught them when they were growing up. Don’t worry about nagging them. It is better to nag them than to have them end up in a terrible, devastating and potentially fatal accident. Require them to carry a cell phone in the event of an emergency, but explain how dangerous it is to use a cell phone when walking. These phones distract them from what is happening around them.

The Dangers of Cell Phones

Whenever you are discussing or pondering safety and driving, you need to bring cell phones into the equation. You absolutely must teach your children that when they begin to drive, absolutely no reason exists for them to talk on their phone or text on their phone when they are driving. Remember back when you started to drive yourself. You probably didn’t even have a cell phone back then. Go back to those times to show your children that we all need to band together as a society to prevent horrific tragedies from happening because people cannot get off their cell phones.

Your Teen Drivers

One of the scariest moments of your life might be when your child goes from a walker to a driver. So many teenagers speed because they think the rules do not apply to them, and they do not realize how inexperienced they actually are as drivers. Show them the right way, and make sure they are enroll in a proper driver’s education program. Sometimes, you need to take extra steps to ensure their safety. Show them pictures and videos of crashes to let them know that this driving experience of theirs is not a game or joke.

Enroll Them in a Course

Find out if your community offers any classes that teach people about driving quickly and how that can injure individuals and walking and driving safely and how that can help individuals. Sometimes, it can be difficult to get your children to listen to you, but when you employ the assistance of someone else, the lessons may become entirely clear in their ears. Enrolling them in a class, and taking it alongside them if possible, is an excellent way for all of you to learn how to be safe.

Suggest School Programs

The safety of your children is extremely important, and so is the safety of all the children in the community. In the event that the town does not offer any such programs, consider talking to the administration at the school. Let them know what your concerns are about speeding in school zones and how quickly everyone is racing around in the morning. Putting together a cohesive and comprehensive plan to tackle the issues and to raise awareness in the school district can have an tremendously positive effect on the community.

Raise Awareness in Town

At the school, people might be very responsive to your program as they want to see their children stay safe just as much as you want your own to. However, the community at large might present the bigger program. Consider putting together an event to raise awareness about tragedies that have happened in town due to speeding. Allow the students to put together presentations as these words from youngsters can have an enormous effect on other people. Advertise everywhere, including on social media, to let people know what they can do to help.

Don’t Forget Your Focus

When you get caught up in all of these activities promoting safety around town and reaching out to other people to let them know, you might forget what about your own focus is and how you are going to go about attaining these goals. Remember, you want to slow down. Slowing down can have positive implications for so many areas of your life, and when this goal spills out into the general public to make a better life for your own family and for the community at large, then you have truly made a difference in the world. Just remember to take it slow and to always think about your actions.

Going back to school is an exciting time for some and an annoying time for others, but work with your community to make it a safe time for all.

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