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National Editorials & Columns

Think safety for back-to-school

It’s August, and that means it’s time to think about safety as a new school year begins.

Sure, it’s a busy time of year as the summer winds to a close. Many families are squeezing in a final summer vacation or a trip to see loved ones, and many parents are trying to spend quality time with their children before the hectic pace of fall classes begins.

With so much activity, and with everyone seeming to be in a rush, it’s important to slow down and be safe, especially around children and schools. The Illinois State Police and other law enforcement agencies are reminding the public to be cautious when driving in and around school zones. Whether you are on your way to school or on your way to work, ISP officials say, the following reminders will be helpful.

Obey school zone speed limits during the school hours and when children are present.

• Do not use your cellphones in the school zones, and please do not text while driving.

• Never pass a stopped school bus.

• Wear your seat belt.

• Be patient with the increased traffic flow during the morning and afternoon hours.

• Parents should remind their children who walk or ride bikes to and from school to stay on the sidewalks, never to run or ride out in front of traffic, and to always travel with a friend.

All of these points are good to remember, but we have a few to add of our own.

Parents whose teenage children are driving to school this year, perhaps for the first time, should emphasize to the youngsters that this is a privilege. Go over the rules of the road with your teen drivers, especially those that pertain to minors, such as limitations on the number of teens who can ride in a car driven by someone younger than 18 years old, as well as restrictions on nighttime driving and curfew hours.

Remind your children it is illegal for anyone younger than 19 to use a cellphone while driving, except in an emergency, and texting while driving is prohibited. Know your child’s friends who will be in the car with your teen, and make sure they know the rules, too.

Finally, don’t forget about summer safety concerns. Swimming pools will be open until Labor Day, so make sure your children stay focused on water safety. And while the weather remains conducive to outdoor activities, including school sports, keep emphasizing the need to warm up properly before exercise and to play safely.

Soon enough, we’ll all be settling into the routines of fall, and much of this advice will become second nature.

But in these first few weeks of the school year, a little awareness could go a long way toward preventing accidents and worse.

– The (Alton) Telegraph

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