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Recognize risks to children during Back to School month

It may still feel like summer to most people, but school starts for children across Illinois at the end of August. While this can be an exciting time for students – or the day many children have dreaded all summer – it can also be a dangerous time, as drivers everywhere must become accustomed to seeing children walking, riding their bicycles or waiting at the side of the road for their buses to pick them up.

August is Back to School Month, advises the National Safety Council. This is the ideal time for drivers to brush up on their pedestrian safety knowledge, especially when it comes to following school zone speed limits, stopping when school buses have their warning lights on and being vigilant for children crossing the street. It can also help to be aware that children do not always follow traffic rules and may dart into the street without using a crosswalk or heeding traffic.

For these reasons, parents should review traffic safety rules with their children if they will be walking or riding bicycles to school. These include always crossing the street at a crosswalk or at a green light in the intersection; never engaging in horseplay with friends when they are near traffic; and staying off their devices and being aware of their surroundings while walking to school.

145 pedestrians and 26 cyclists were killed in traffic accidents in Illinois in 2017, states the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Some of these victims may have been children on their way to school. More deaths and serious injuries may be prevented when everyone is aware of the hazards and risks.

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