Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt

Volume 14 Issue 17 .                                                                                     Summer 2020

Safety Source

Thank you for being a Safety Source family!

Back to School Edition

This week we want to focus on how to stay safe especially as children go back to school. There are interactive tools for your children to learn the importance of back school safety, as well as information for parents. We hope this will be a fun way to learn about important safety topics together as a family. Let us know if we can be a resource to you in anyway! As always, we try to include the best topics to keep your family happy, healthy, and safe! If you wish to see a particular topic or question addressed in our next issue, please let us know!

Newsletter Highlights


Video for Kids

Interactive video for kids to learn about social distancing and why it is important to stay safe. 

Activities for kids to learn about back to school Safety

Lots of activities to learn about back to school safety and how you can help your family stay safe. 

Interactive Quiz about Bus Safety

Test your child's knowledge about Bus Safety topics through an interactive online quiz. 

More Information for Parents

Information for parents about COVID-19 and back to school routines. 

Pedestrian Safety

Whether you are the pedestrian crossing the street or you are the driver approaching a crosswalk, it is important to understand how to keep pedestrians safe and the laws that protect them. There was a 3% increase in the number of pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in 2018, which totaled 6,283 deaths.1 Here are a few tips that may help to reduce future injuries.

Follow these basic safety tips when walking through your community:

  • Always walk on sidewalks when available. If a sidewalk isn’t available, walk on the shoulder or path facing traffic.
  • Always remain alert. Avoid becoming distracted by your phone which could lead to Distracted Walking.
  • Always cross the street at crosswalks or intersections when possible. Be sure to make eye contact with the driver before crossing at the crosswalk.
  • Wait at the intersection until the walk signal is given or a crossing guard gives you permission.
  • Never assume that a driver sees you or that they will stop.
  • When walking at night, always wear bright clothing and reflective material to help with visibility. The risk for injury as a pedestrian can increase at night.
  • Watch for cars backing out when walking through a parking lot and never allow children to walk unattended in a parking lot.
  • Be aware of other individuals outside such as bikers, pets, and other walkers.

Pedestrian safety tips for drivers:

  • Avoid distracted driving. Driving distracted can take your attention off the road causing you to not be able to look for pedestrians.
  • Never pass another vehicle at a crosswalk. There may be people you can’t see crossing the street.
  • Be cautious when backing out of a parking spot or onto the street. A pedestrian could be in your blind spot. Double check several times before backing up.
  • Always yield to a pedestrian at an intersection or to a pedestrian that is crossing the street.
  • Remember to slow down when approaching a crosswalk as you may not be able to see a pedestrian until it’s too late. Make eye contact with the pedestrian to ensure they know it is safe to cross.
  • Follow the speed limit when entering and exiting a school zone. Adhere to the crossing guard when present. It is against the law to use any type of device in a school zone such as a cell phone.

As a driver, it is important to remember, pedestrians’ always have the right -of- way in crosswalks. If the pedestrian is walking across the street in a designated school zone while the flashers are on regardless if they are in marked crosswalk or not, you must come to complete stop and remained stopped until the pedestrian has completely crossed the street. The Tennessee Code 55-8-134 officially states that Unless in a marked school zone when a warning flasher or flashers are in operation, when traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.

Walking can be a great opportunity to increase your physical activity and to spend time with your family and friends. Adhering to these safety tips can help to keep you and your loved ones safe.

  1. https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/pedestrian-safety
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/pedestrian_safety/index.html
  3. https://www.tn.gov/tdot/multimodal-transportation-resources/bicycle-and-pedestrian-program/tennesse-pedestrian-laws.html
Hands Free Law and School Zones

Distracted driving has become an increasing safety risk for both teen and adult drivers over the last 10 years. Motor vehicles crashes are still the leading cause of death for teenagers with inexperience and distracted driving contributing to this cause. 4 The consistent educational efforts of spreading the awareness of the dangers of distracted driving hasn’t been the only avenue used to eliminate texting and driving. The Tennessee Hands Free Law was enacted on July 1st, 2019 to reduce distracted driving. Public Chapter No. 412 is the official name for the Hands-Free Law.

This law makes it illegal for a driver to hold a cell phone or mobile device with any part of their body. This includes to:

  • Write, send, or read any text-based communication which can include instant messages, text messages, email, or internet data on wireless communications.
  • Reach for a cellphone or mobile device in a manner that requires the driver to no longer be in a seated driving position or properly restrained by a seat belt.
  • Watch a video or movie on a cellphone or mobile device, other than GPS.
  • Record or broadcast video on a cellphone or mobile device

If the driver is 18 years of age or older, he or she may be able to use an earpiece or headphone device. The driver over the age of 18, may also use a single button on wireless device to start or end a phone call. In case of an emergency, the law does state that a driver is permitted to use a cellphone or other wireless telecommunications device to communicate with law enforcement agencies, medical providers, fire departments, or other emergency service agencies while driving a motor vehicle, if the use is necessitated by a bona fide emergency, including a natural or human occurrence that threatens human health, life, or property.

Violation of this law is considered a class-C misdemeanor. Fines for violations of the law include

  • First-time offense: $50
  • Third-time offense or higher or the violation results in a collision: $100
  • Violation occurs in a work zone or marked and active school zone while the flashers are on: $200

If you’re under 18, you cannot use a wireless device at all, not even with a Bluetooth headset or speaker, and not even to talk to a digital assistant like Siri or OK Google. If you need to make a phone call, pull over to a parking lot and put the car in park and then make your phone call. It may also be helpful to place the phone in the glove compartment to avoid any distractions while driving. Remember, drivers under the age of 18, cannot make or answer calls while driving (hand-held or hands-free). They can only operate their phone during the use of the following things:

  • Calling 911 in an emergency situation. If there’s an immediate threat to life and safety, they can use the phone in either hand-held or hands-free mode.

It is equally as important to understand and refamiliarize yourself with school zone laws. It is important to know that speeding in a school zone could result in you being charged with Reckless Driving. School zones are marked with traffic signs and flashers to alert drivers that they are entering and exiting a school zone. Be aware of the school zones on your route and slow down before approaching the school zone. Be alert and stop completely if any pedestrians are crossing the street.

The law states

If anyone speed exceeds 15 miles per hour when passing through a school zone when the flashers are operational, or during the 90 minutes before the school opens and 90 minutes after the closing hour of a school will be guilty of reckless driving.

  1. https://handsfreetn.com/
  2. https://law.justia.com/codes/tennessee/2019/title-55/chapter-8/part-1/section-55-8-152/
  3. https://www.tn.gov/safety/driver-services/classd/gdl.html
  4. https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/teen-driving
Click for more information about Teen Driving Safety
Back to School and Car Seat Safety

As summer comes to a close, schools are opening back up again, which can be exciting time for students, parents, and educators. It is important to remember how to keep your child safe while riding to and from school in a vehicle, waiting in the carpool lane, or riding a bus. A new school year is a great time to review the child passenger safety tips that can help keep your family safe all year long.

The number one way you can keep your child safe in a vehicle is by using the appropriate child restraint seat. Depending on the height and weight of the child, a rear-facing seat, forward-facing seat, or a booster seat may be appropriate for your child. Always check the labels on the car seat to ensure the child still is in a correct seat. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has provided suggestions on best practice when choosing the correct seat for your child but again always check the labels because each seat has different height and weight requirements. The start of the school year is a great time to double check that your child has not outgrown the current seat you are using.

It is important to remind your child of the appropriate way to use a car seat every time your child rides in a vehicle even if the driver changes or duration of the trip is short. School is often close to home and it can be tempting to not secure the child in the seat because the ride is so short. It is equally tempting for the child themselves to not want to be a car seat since the ride is so short. But it is critical that every time you are in the vehicle you properly restraint your child in the correct car seat.

Below are some tips to review with your child before every ride:

  • Seat belts must be worn during every car ride. If the child meets the requirements to be in a seat belt, the seat belt should be fastened before the vehicle is even turned on and left on until the end of the trip.
    • When waiting in a carpool line, it is important the child remains in the seat belt or car seat even if the car is not moving. A child should never be allowed to move around the vehicle, or seat in the front seat even when the car is stopped.
  • Every passenger should have their own seat and seat belt. If there is not enough room in the vehicle, the child should wait until another vehicle is available instead of putting more passengers in the vehicle than intended.
  • Children under the age of 13 should always be in the back seat of the vehicle because this decreases the risk of injury and protects them from the airbags if the vehicle was in a wreck.
    • Even when the vehicle has stopped or waiting in a carpool line, the child should remain buckled in the back seat of the vehicle. This helps protect child if the vehicle was in a wreck or hit from behind even at a slow speed.
  • A child should not unbuckle the seat belt or the child restraint until the driver tells the child and the vehicle has stopped and is turned off completely. When going through the carpool lane, child may unbuckle as soon as they arrive on school property to make sure they can exit the car quickly. Although this may seem like a good idea, it can actually be very dangerous for the child.
  • Remove the backpack and coats before placing the child in the car seat. This allows for the seat belt or straps to be correctly positioned against the child’s chest.
  • Never allow a teacher or other adult to buckle the child into the car seat. As the caregiver, you know how to correctly place the child in the seat. If another adult buckles the child, it may be done incorrectly, and the child may not be properly restrained.
  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle even for just a short time like to drop off another sibling in the school building.
  • When carpooling with another family, always ensure there is enough space and seats in the car for your child. Show the driver how to properly install the seat and buckle the child in correctly. It may be helpful to have the driver practice before the ride so you can answer any questions and correct any misuses during installation.

Sources: https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/auto.html

https://www.nhtsa.gov/equipment/car-seats-and-booster-seats

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/gradeschool/school/Pages/Back-to-School-Tips.aspx

Click for more information about Car Seats
Are You interested in learning more about Child Passenger Safety?

We are now offering online webinars that offer important safety information about Child Passenger Safety. If you interested in learning more, or about us partnering with your organization, please contact us! 

Learn more about Online Webinars for Child Passenger Safety
How to make Apple Snacks

Easy recipes for your child to learn how to cook while having fun in the kitchen! 

Click for Recipe
Meet the Injury Prevention Team


Purnima Unni

is the Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program Manager for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. She has a Masters in Public Health and is a Certified Health Education specialist with over 20 years of experience in injury prevention. She is a wife and mother of two girls and her rescue puppy. She loves to cook, travel and watch murder mysteries.

Eppiphanie Richardson

is an Atlanta native who decided to take on Nashville as her newest adventure. She is also the Associate Program Manager for the Be in the Zone-Turn Off Your Phone Campaign which educates teens and parents on the dangers of distracted driving. She has a passion for healthcare and serving others. She feels privileged to be able to serve Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. In her free time, she enjoys exploring Nashville, dancing, running, and spending time with her husband and son.

Mimi Sanders

is a Nashville native and received her Masters from Vanderbilt University. She is the Associate Program Manager for the Kohls Seat Smart Program, which focuses on educating caregivers, children, and community partners on the importance of car seat safety. She is so excited to join the team at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering with her local church’s special needs ministry, hanging out with family and friends, and doing yoga


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Resources from our generous partners
Tips about Back to School and COVID-19
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Tips from AllState about Returning to School
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Tips for Teens and Safe Driving
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This newsletter is brought to you by the Pediatric Trauma Injury Prevention Program and Kohl’s Stay Seat Smart Program at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

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