Family Engagement Happy & Healthy

A Scary Lesson in Street Safety

I don’t care where you live… As a parent, street safety is always a concern.

Last week, fear was stuck into the hearts of many San Francisco parents when two twelve-year-old boys were struck by a drunk driver as they crossed the street to attend Marina Middle school. Fortunately, news reports say the boys will survive. Even so, it is clear from report photos showing clothing and backpacks strewn about the street, this was a serious and VERY SCARY incident, which could easily have turned out otherwise.

See the news report below:

Let’s make our schools/city more street safe

Hearing about this story, it is easy to feel worried about the safety of our kids. Nonetheless, there is much we can do to increase the safety of our streets and make our city a more family friendly place. Here are some ideas…

stop sign

Talk to you kids about street safety!

As parents we can’t talk enough drill about the importance of being aware while crossing streets, especially busy ones. If your children are old enough, you may want to share this story with them to emphasize that EVEN when THEY are safe, they can’t count on drivers to always be safe. Remind them sometime drivers are distracted (texting) or impaired by sleepiness or alcohol.

Ask your school to teach street safety.

Email your child’s teacher and principal to request they integrate street safety into lessons and talk about it during school wide events. PE instruction could even incorporate practicing looking both ways, etc. Connect with “Safe Routes for School” to get information and resources for a “street safe” event.

Engage your school community to install traffic calming measures.

Every school is different. Analyze the hazards around your school and work with PTA/PTO’s and other parent groups to advocate for more visible crosswalks, stop signs and other traffic calming efforts to increase the safety around your school. For a start, in San Francisco residents can call 311 to lodge complaints to install safety measures. Organizing a group of parents to make such calls can be a good first start.

Demand enforcement of existing school zone speed limits.

It is a law in San Francisco that the school zone speed limit is 15 miles per hour. At my daughter’s school which lies on a very busy road, this is hardly followed. Ask your local police department or school resource officer to request that traffic cops are on site during drop off and pick up times to give out tickets to drivers who do not follow the law.

Slow down and Pay attention.

If I’m honest, I’d have to tell you about the time I almost hit a young boy while driving my daughters to swim class. My car mirrors make it hard to see pedestrians and I have often been surprised to find a person step out into the crosswalk when I was about to turn. Kids are smaller than adults which makes them even harder to see. I hate to think what could have happened if the boy hadn’t been paying such good attention. When he saw me turn, he backed up on the sidewalk and it was then I’d realized my mistake.

We are so busy rushing to and fro, multitasking, trying to fit everything in that it’s important to remember to TAKE OUR TIME while driving. Actually STOP at stop signs. PAY ATTENTION. If all of us make an extra effort it will make a huge difference in making our city more safe. More important, we’ll be modeling for our kids what it means to be to be safe, courteous drivers.

What do you think? Do you have any resource/ideas to share to help make our streets more safe for our youngest pedestrians?

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