This week we’re highlighting safe travel to school. Yesterday, we focused on school buses. Today, walking to school.
15% of kids walk or bike to school. Walking to and from school is a great way to create a regular exercise routine for your children and reduces the risk of obesity.
But walking to school still has potential problems such as predators, loose animals, bullies, and unsafe drivers. Make sure your child has a safe, pre-planned, well-travelled route to follow before allowing them to walk to school.
Consider starting up a walking pool in your community to bring students together to walk in groups – there’s safety in numbers!
The online guide at Walking School Bus advises asking the following four questions when creating a walking school bus route:
- Do you have room to walk? Are there sidewalks and paths? Is there too much traffic?
- Is it easy to cross the street?
- Do drivers behave well? Do they yield to walkers? Do they speed?
- Does the environment feel safe? Are there loose dogs? Is there criminal activity?
For more information on a establishing a walking school bus, read the guide created by The National Center for Safe Routes to School.
Here are some additional safety tips to share with your child if he or she is going to walk to school, alone or in a group:
- First, see if there are other neighborhood children your child can walk with.
- Check for routes that require as few intersection crossings as possible.
- Explain to your child that they may not deviate from the pre-planned route.
- Discourage the use of iPods, cell phones, screens of any kind, or headphones – kids should not be looking at screens or listening to loud music when walking to school. Awareness equals safety.
- Make sure your child understands never to accept a ride from a stranger or a friend unless it has been prearranged by you.
One mom who blogs at Kitchen Counter Chronicle, offers this excellent tip for parents with kids who walk to school: As a parent it is important sometimes to get down and look at the world from a child’s point of view… literally. Often times young children cannot see over cars, around corners and beyond obstructions like shrubs and fences. Take a walk with your kids, but stop and get down and check out your child’s perspective. The world might look entirely different.
Tomorrow’s travel highlight: biking to school.