Beaverton Police Department: Revisiting Your Spring Break Safety Plan

By Police Staff14 joe-pizzio-190227

Spring vacation for school age children marks the first time they’ve had substantial time off from school since the winter break. There were a few “snow breaks” thrown in this year but everyone hopes that spring like weather will allow more outdoor activity.

For adults this is a precursor for summer vacation. More kids to look out for who are not in school both on the road and at home.

The upcoming mini break provides a great opportunity to establish or re-visit a safety plan between parents, young drivers and those “tweeners” who may be staying home alone for the first time.

Motor vehicle fatalities is the leading cause of death for youth. In many motor vehicle collisions involving a youthful driver distraction played a key role in cause. Distractions due to cell phone use (talk or text) and the distraction caused by other young people in the car or manipulating the radio are just a few of the issues drivers face. In Oregon there are appropriate laws relative to each cause but they are clearly not universally followed even by older and more experienced drivers. Parents should limit the number of passengers in their teen’s car both until the legal requirements are met and until the teen has displayed a level of driving maturity necessary to manage other young passengers.

Emergency responders cannot stress enough the importance of leaving cell phones alone while driving. The parts of the human brain necessary to carry on a conversation via voice or text that necessary to navigate a car cannot be compromised. You need only watch reports from across the country to see how that type of distraction can end in tragedy.

Young people left at home to care for themselves while mom and dad work need to be given the authority to make tough calls or decisions such as:

  • Don’t open doors to strangers.
  • Do not divulge that mom and/or dad aren’t home.
  • Keep adults appraised of when you are leaving the house, where you are going and when you plan to return.
  • Take the most direct and visible route possible to your desired location.
  • Don’t engage people in conversations while out and don’t fall for the “Can you help me find my pet” trick.
  • Report any suspicious people or situations to a trusted adult.

Depending on how responsible your young child is it may be time to consider a cell phone which provides ready access but is limited in terms of its capabilities (internet).

Life doesn’t get any easier and you may find yourself in the position (as a parent) forced to rely on your young ones to grow up faster then you would like. The high school son or daughter who must provide transportation for a younger sibling may not be, in your mind, an ideal situation but circumstances sometimes force the issue. The same can be said for young children being lawfully left alone at home. Conversations that include the “what if” questions go a long way in preparing your children and making the transition less daunting.