TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - In just a week, the morning commute will be filled with children walking or bicycling to school. That makes it a good time for both kids and adults to take time for a refresher course in safety.
Dr. Brad Woods, a trauma surgeon at Topeka's Stormont-Vail HealthCare, says it's not uncommon to see an influx of broken bones and head injures as more children are on the streets, commuting by foot or two wheels.
Stormont-Vail emergency nurse Brooke Schumacher, who also serves as coordinator for Safe Kids Shawnee County, agrees. She says adult drivers are the kids' first line of defense. She says drivers should take a few moments to review their daily routes and pinpoint where the school zones and crosswalks are. On the road, she says, drivers should be extra aware of children because they're usually not looking for drivers.
Parents should teach kids the rules of the road. Schumacher says plot out the safest possible route and walk it with the children. She says parents should stress things like using crosswalks and walking on sidewalks instead of in the streets. When looking to cross a street, teach children to look both ways several times and, when they're available, use the push buttons to activate pedestrian crossing lights.
Just like a seatbelt is mandatory in a vehicle, a bike helmet should be a standard accessory on a bicycle. Dr. Woods says a helmet will vastly reduce the amount of force that is transferred to a child's head and brain, by the helmet absorbing the impact instead.
Woods says it doesn't take much impact to cause potentially serious injury to small bodies, so parents and children can't be too careful.
If children will be walking without parents, it's a good idea for them to buddy up, so they're not alone. Also, if children must be walking at dusk or after dark, make sure they have reflective material on their clothing.
Teen drivers should be reminded of school zones and reduced speed limits, and urged to limit distractions like cell phones, music and other passengers.