A busy city like South San Francisco can present many dangers to children, especially elementary school students, as they walk home. There are major streets with heavy traffic and many lanes to cross. Learn ways to teach your child how to walk safely to school.
There are some important lessons to teach your child about walking to school. You should work out the safest route and walk this route with your child both to and from school, pointing out things to watch out for and showing him or her the correct way to cross each street. If your child is going anywhere after school other than home, make sure he/she informs a family member. Get the name of the friend being visited and a phone number where he/she may be reached.
Walking school bus program
If many children in your neighborhood take the same route to school, you can organize a Walking School Bus program among the parents. The children will walk to school in a group, with one or more parents accompanying them. Starting with the child living farthest from the school, the group will pick up children along the route as it moves. After school, one or more parents will be at the school to lead the group home.
General safety tips
You should share the following general information or warnings with your child, along with any specific facts about the route:
- Never talk to strangers. Never accept rides from strangers. If someone you don’t know offers you a ride, run away from him/her. Run to where there are other people. When you get to school, tell your teacher or principal. When you get home, tell your parents about what happened.
- If a stranger tries to grab you, fight against him/her and yell, “Help! This is not my mommy (daddy)!”
- Look for and obey the traffic lights. Cross the street only when the sign says walk. If there is not a walk/don’t walk sign, then cross only on the green light.
- Watch out for cars making right turns on a red light.
- Always look both ways before crossing the street—look left, look right, look left again—then proceed carefully.
- Walk, don’t run across the street. If you fall, you might not be able to get up in time.
- Always cross at the corner. Don’t cross in the middle of the block or walk in between parked cars.
- Wear bright, reflective clothing, especially during the darker winter months.
- Pay attention to traffic sights and sounds. Don’t wear headphones or talk on a cell phone on the way to school.
- Stay alert at all times while walking. Accidents happen most often when we are not paying attention.
- Always follow the designated route to school. Stay out of alleys and stay away from any abandoned buildings.
Railroad crossing tips
When children are crossing railroad tracks, it is very important that the following safety guidelines be followed:
- Cross tracks only at designated pedestrian or railroad crossings. Observe all warning signs and signals at railroad grade crossings or near railroad tracks.
- Never walk around lowered gates or past flashing lights. It’s illegal and dangerous. If there is danger to life or limb or if police are needed, dial 911.
- Do not wear headphones when near railroad tracks and/or crossings.
- Never try to race a train to the crossing.
- Expect a train on the track at any time.
- Always watch out for a second train when crossing multiple tracks.
- Trains cannot stop quickly. It can take a mile or more to stop a train once the emergency brakes are applied. When the engineer can see you, it is already too late to be able to avoid a collision.
- Do not walk on or play near railroad trestles or rails. There is only enough clearance on the tracks for a train to pass. Trestles are not meant to be sidewalks or pedestrian bridges.
- Do not attempt to hop aboard railroad cars or equipment at any time.
- Be extra alert at night or in bad weather.
- Railroad tracks, trestles, train yards, and equipment are private property and trespassers are subject to arrest and fines.