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My child is starting school: what is the best way of getting there?

My child is starting school: what´s the best way of getting there?

12/09/2016

It´s back to school time again, which forces families to take all kinds of things into consideration: textbooks, uniforms, new timetables and new routines to keep everyone on their toes.

One of the most important aspects of the new school year is transport and everything that this entails.

HOW WILL YOUR CHILDREN GET TO SCHOOL?

There are various options for getting to school every morning: on the school bus, in your own car, on foot... and the safety factors of each of them are inextricably linked to information and education.

Summed up below are the basic road safety regulations to ensure your child´s journey to school is as safe as possible.

BY BUS

According to the Spanish Directorate General for Traffic (DGT), the school bus is the safest means of transport and the most widely used option by schoolchildren in Spain. Their regulations reflect many of the aspects related to vehicle maintenance as well as specific route-related matters.

The regulations governing school buses are very clear: they cannot be over 16 years old, they must have official school bus signage, they must have passed the mandatory vehicle inspections on the correct dates and they must have fully comprehensive insurance.

Parents and guardians should be aware that it is mandatory to have a monitor on board when more than 50% of the children are aged under 12. The monitor must wear a reflective vest and be the first person off the vehicle to check the safety of the surrounding area. This last fact is crucial and further underlines the importance of the monitor, as most accidents (90%) take place while children are getting on/off the bus.

With regard to the route, buses used for school transport also need to fulfill certain guidelines:

  • The maximum length of the journey, each way, must not exceed one hour.
  • The route and stops must have been authorized in advance.
  • The bus must always travel at a speed 10 km per hour less than the usual speed limit for the road in question.

With regard to stops, one of the biggest black spots in terms of road safety for schoolchildren, Royal Decree 443/2001 of 27 April 2001 requires the submission of a binding report issued by the relevant Traffic Authority to authorize the different routes for school buses.

This report helps the authorities to decide on the most appropriate stops following a survey and analysis of their locations, and should contain the following basic information:

  • Location of the school bus stop.
  • Characteristics of the location.
  • Access to the bus stop.

BY PRIVATE CAR

The regulations for traveling to school with children in the car are the same as for any other car journey, so it´s worth reiterating them:

  • Children must be properly seated with the seat belt fastened or in the appropriate child restraint system.
  • If the child is less than 1.35 meters tall, they must be seated in a child restraint system or booster seat.
  • Fundación MAPFRE recommends that children under four years old are always seated in rear-facing child seats.

ON FOOT

This is the most conventional way of getting to school for a fortunate few, though in this case too there are certain safety aspects to bear in mind.

A few guidelines:

  • Always cross the road on pedestrian crossings, looking carefully both ways first.
  • Never run, skip or play when crossing as you run the risk of falling over in the middle of the road.
  • If children are very young, they must hold the hand of an adult at all times.
  • Never cross between parked vehicles on the street. This reduces your field of vision.
  • On the pavement, always walk on the inner side and pay close attention when passing garage openings.
  • If you have to walk along the edge of the road, always walk on the left-hand side so you are facing oncoming vehicles.

WHICH IS THE SAFEST OPTION?

The school bus is considered to be the safest option as there are certain professional requirements and regulations that cover every possible safety aspect.

This does not necessarily mean that the other modes of transport are less safe.

As mentioned earlier, with the necessary education and awareness, any form of getting to school can be safe.

A happy back-to-school to you all!

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