The best part of the walk was walking for safety to help make the children’s walk to school a safe pathway and to teach them the importance of this event.
– PTA Safety Committee Member, Utah
In 2009, 203,000 children ages 15 and younger were injured in motor vehicles crashes; 15,000 of those injured were pedestrians (NHTSA, 2011). Priority must be placed on making it possible for everyone to walk safely, especially in neighborhoods and school zones.
To reduce the risk of injury:
- Children and adults need to learn safe walking and bicycling skills.
- Drivers need to watch for others using the road.
- Safety problems along routes to school need to be fixed.
Some of the best ways to increase the safety of a child's walking or biking trip to school are to:
- Provide safe, well-maintained walkways separate from vehicles.
- Teach children to cross streets at marked crossings and to always look left-right-left.
- Slow traffic in neighborhoods and near schools through traffic calming strategies and enforcement efforts.
- Work with parents of children with disabilities and special education professionals to identify accessibility barriers.
- Ensure that walkways are continuous and meet national accessibility standards.
- Install curb ramps at every intersection and at mid-block crossings.
- Provide accessible pedestrian signals at intersections.
A Note About Personal Security
Parents and other adults sometimes worry about children encountering bullies or strangers on the way to or from school. Parents may fear kidnapping or assault. While the actual occurrences are extremely rare, it’s important to deal with both perceptions and documented problems and to create a plan that will minimize risk. Asking parents to walk with children to school is one way to address this concern. Some communities start walking school buses or bicycle trains as a way to have an adult presence on the street.