When Halifax County Sheriff Wes Tripp’s son Wes went to school as a child, he walked him across the street to class during kindergarten through second grade, Tripp said.
Then when his son was in the third grade, Tripp said he would stand out in his yard until he was sure his son was in class safely.
“Safety should be first and foremost when it comes to children,” Tripp said.
Now the Sheriff’s Office is keeping children safe again this year by patrolling the school areas in highly visible, marked vehicles to see if anyone passes school buses.
The Sheriff’s Office has given back to school tips for children and parents to practice for a safer travelling experience.
Some of these tips include:
• Use sidewalks and attempt to make eye contact with drivers.
• Remind children drivers in parked cars have limited viewing areas, so be careful in all parking lots.
• Have your child well-rested in order to assist in alertness in dealing with any safety issue.
• Have your child on schedule to avoid being in a hurry to get to bus stops or school.
• Familiarize your child with bus pickup locations prior to the start of school. Identify locations close by your child can go to in case of inclement weather or threats of any kind.
But he also said not everyone has the benefit of living close to a school, so he suggested parents go over some safety tips with their children when possible.
“I would say just basically go over the safety tips whenever is convenient and as often as they could,” Tripp said for busier families.
Other advice the Sheriff’s Office provided were to have children be aware of their surroundings for any potential threat and to look out for cars, suspicious people or potential environmental threats, such as tree limbs, broken pavement or bad weather.
Children should also take the safest route to bus stops or schools with lighting, traffic volume and their surroundings in consideration. They should also avoid distractive habits while walking or riding bicycles and do not allow headphones to be worn, as they prevent hearing horns or warning screams.
Parents should familiarize themselves with possible sex offenders in their immediate area and with the school’s playground equipment.
As for accidents, 61 children are hit by cars every day in the U.S. according to www.safekids.org, and unintentional pedestrian injuries are the second leading cause of death in the U.S. for ages 5 to 14, according Tripp’s tips.
But the sheriff said the incidents in the County are low, and people can do further research at www.safekids.org.
After Tripp’s son started attending high school, he said he and his son started doing practice drives to school to familiarize themselves with how to get there safely.
“Practice makes perfect,” Tripp said.
The Sheriff’s Office also had tips for those beginning to drive to school, including:
• Follow seat belt and child restraint laws.
• Use booster seats until your child reaches the weight and height harness strap limits of the car seat.
• Follow laws regarding texting.
• Watch out for school buses and abide by the school bus passing laws.
• Report aggressive driving by others.
Tripp said even though his son is an adult now, he still is concerned about his son’s safety.
“He’s 24 years old, and I’m still a little nervous when he’s driving because I’m a parent like any other parent,” Tripp said. “I’m even nervous when I’m his passenger.”
Tripp said another tip for driving safely is to keep eye contact with other drivers so everyone is aware of each other.
Those who see aggressive driving are advised to report it.
“It’s all about safety,” Tripp said. “You can never be too safe.”