Back-To-School Safety Tips for Drivers and Parents

How to do your part to keep kids safe on the road.

A mom walks young kids to school.
The walk to school is a good time to educate kids about road safety.
Potential Filmmaker / Shutterstock

From 2008 to 2017, 264 children were killed in school-transportation-related crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of those, 203 were either walking, waiting for the bus, biking, or riding to or from school in another vehicle.

Common sense and a little education can go a long way towards keeping everyone safe this fall.

Tips for Drivers and Passengers

  • Be especially alert in school zones, even on weekends and evenings. Slow down—whether you see children or not—and always obey speed limits, traffic signs, and crossing guards.
  • Avoid multitasking and distracted driving; never text and drive.
  • Put children under the age of 13 in the back seat.
  • Make sure infant and child car seats are properly installed. Car seats reduce risk of death by 28 percent in the event of a crash. Read our complete car seat safety guide for safety facts, inspection information, car seat recalls, and more.
  • Double check for children in blind spots and when driving in reverse. Teach your children never to play in, under, or around vehicles.
  • Be alert for children getting on and off school buses and crossing the street outside marked crosswalks. Maintain a safe distance behind buses and expect frequent stops.
  • Remind your passengers they are legally required to wear a seatbelt.
A dad buckles a blue helmet onto his toddler.

Double check that helmets still fit and aren't damaged.

Halfpoint / Shutterstock

Tips for Cyclists

  • Make sure your child has the skills to ride a bike safely, such as riding in a straight line and signaling to vehicles when turning.
  • Choose the safest bike route to school—one with fewer cars and lower speed limits. Use protected bike paths when they are available.
  • Cyclists should understand traffic safety rules. Ride in the same direction as traffic and stop at all stop signs and signals.
  • Teach children why wearing a helmet is important. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, wearing a helmet can reduce the odds of head injury by half.
  • Remain focused and alert when riding. Never use earbuds or electronics while in motion.

Tips for Pedestrians

  • Pedestrians under 10 years should be accompanied by an adult when walking to and from school. Teach children the importance of using crosswalks and how to look left-right-left before crossing.
  • Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic.
  • If possible, choose a drop off point where children won’t have to cross the street to reach their destinations. Avoid jaywalking. Encourage kids to always cross in clear view of traffic, and never from between parked cars.
  • Just as you wouldn’t text and drive, don’t text and walk. Stay alert to your surroundings.

This article was first published in August 2020 and last updated in July 2021.