Center for Safe Schools offers Back-to-School Safety Tips for student walkers and drivers

walking to school

With the start of the school year quickly approaching, mornings and afternoons will find streets busier with both vehicle and pedestrian traffic. It’s essential for drivers to be aware of our student walkers and to be vigilant when traveling the roadways. It’s equally important that our student walkers and cyclists use safe practices when commuting to and from school. 

In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2020, of the estimated 54,769 pedestrians injured in traffic crashes, 5,223 were children. Additionally, of the estimated 38,886 injured pedal cyclists in traffic crashes, 5,183 were children.

Here are some tips to ensure your safety, as well as the safety of students this school year.

  • Parents should walk their child’s route each year to become familiar with and identify any changes or hazards that may be present. 
  • Walkers should use crosswalks, stand at the corner of the intersection, and look both ways before crossing. If no crosswalks are provided, always walk facing traffic, watch for turning vehicles and make sure vehicles come to a complete stop before crossing.
  • Walkers should never enter a street between parked cars due to limited visibility to drivers and should walk far enough in front of stopped vehicles so they are clearly seen. Students should walk, not run while crossing the streets. 
  • As an added precaution, parents could add bright or reflective items to a child’s backpack to help increase visibility.
  • Drivers should take extra time and precautions to ensure the safety of student walkers. Drivers should slow down and be alert and patient in school zones and at intersections, medians and curbs where students may travel to or from school.
  • Drivers should be prepared for children to enter the roadways and leave plenty of space when stopped near crosswalks so other drivers can see any approaching pedestrians.
  • Drivers are encouraged to be patient when other vehicles are stopped for pedestrians and not pass those vehicles.
  • In conjunction with state laws, drivers should not be talking on cell phones or texting while driving.
  • Students should refrain from using electronic devices while walking or cycling to or from school. If you must talk or text, stop and move to the side of the walkway. Also, never cross the street while using an electronic device and avoid wearing earphones.
  • Be alert for an increase in bicyclists. To prevent collisions, drivers should anticipate bicyclists who may not follow the rules of the roadway.

Center for Safe Schools (CSS) is committed to supporting schools, educators, parents, law enforcement, community partners and local agencies to develop and practice emergency management and crisis response plans, create positive school climates, implement evidence-based programs, and establish proactive safety measures. Our services address threat assessment, emergency management, crisis management, mental health first aid training, and social and emotional learning. CSS is an initiative of Center for Schools and Communities, a division of Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit. For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter @CtrSafeSchools, LinkedIn and Facebook. 

By Kelly Swanson