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Back to School Safety 2021

With the school year approaching, parents and students alike are in a much better situation than they were a year ago. With the covid-19 vaccine proving to be effective in slowing the spread of the virus, there is hopefully a light at the end of the tunnel for this pandemic. Even though almost 70% of Long Island has gotten at least one dose of the vaccine, the large majority are adults over 18 years old. Unlike last year, this year in-person learning is prioritized. However, the CDC is still encouraging schools to have students and faculty to wear mask while school is in session.

Pandemic or not, the Long Island traffic is back to normal at this point. Following Labor day, the traffic will pick up again. School buses are out at various times in the mornings and afternoons, college students are on the highways, and many are back on the road from a late summer vacation. There will also be many more pedestrians, since many students will be walking on the sidewalks or riding their bikes to school. Additionally, many parents will be dropping their kids off, meaning students will be crossing the street. So it’s important that we share our reminders, so that all who share the road can be safe and prevent injury.


Schools have been and will be providing public transportation for kids this coming school year. Typically when the school year starts, there is a big increase in traffic. Last year, the traffic was a little bit lighter than usual because of the pandemic. We should not expect the same for this year. It is imperative that drivers are aware of all traffic laws concerning schools and busses. These laws are very often neglected or willfully ignored. Sadly, one in five children under 15 who were killed in a traffic accident were pedestrians.

  • Look out for young pedestrians in the morning and afternoon. Take extra caution when around school zones, playgrounds and residential areas. Always slow down when approaching a crosswalk at a school zone.
  • Slow down and follow the speed limit at school zones. Children are the most unpredictable pedestrians you can encounter. It is the driver’s responsibility to follow these posted school zone speed limits. Students could be crossing the streets in these areas for a number of reasons, and there might not be a crosswalk present to guide them. The last thing you would want is to be speeding when a kid runs across the street without warning.
  • Stop for Buses. When the stop sign on the bus is out, that means drivers on both sides of the road need to stay stopped until the sign has retreated. Give plenty of space for kids to cross the street to board the bus. Even after the bus has left, wait a couple of seconds or move slowly down the street. Sometimes when a kid is late for the bus they might run across the street without paying attention to try to catch the bus.
  • Give yourself extra time in the morning so you are not rushing. When traffic causes possible lateness at work or other appointments, that is when drivers begin to make poor decisions. Rather than putting yourself in the stressful situation of running late due to school traffic, prepare earlier so you are not tempted to rush. Make the necessary adjustments and leave your home early enough to be ready if school buses and increased traffic cause delays.


If your son or daughter walks to school every day it is very important that you teach them proper pedestrian safety so that they can prevent dangerous situations. Distraction is the biggest problem with pedestrian safety, and this is especially true for kids. Statistically, teenagers have a higher risk of getting a fatal pedestrian injury the older they are. The main cause of this involves these teens being distracted while they are walking.

As you probably guessed, the distractions stem from smartphones. Teens use their smartphones to text, browse social media and listen to music. According to a study at the most common distraction for young pedestrians are using headphones to listen to music, with texting being a close second. It is important that you warn your teenagers of the dangers of being distracted while walking to school.

Children usually aren’t ready to start walking to school without a parent until they are 10.If you plan to let your children walk by themselves when they’re older, it’s a good idea to walk with them to school at a younger age so they are comfortable when they go alone. When they do eventually walk alone, it would be ideal for your child to walk with at least one neighbor or sibling so that they aren’t truly alone. It is best to show your child a route that has crossing guards and sidewalks.

About the Author

Steven Palermo is the managing partner for Palermo Law, Long Island’s Personal Injury Law Firm. He has been helping people receive compensation for their injuries for over 21 years. He focuses on cases involving car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and slip and fall injuries.

His book The Ultimate Guide to Handling New York Car Accident Claims details the ins and outs of a car accident claim in a simple, easy-to-read manner.