By Leah Walton
Do you live within the school walk zone for your child’s school? If you do, that generally means that there is no school bus that serves your neighborhood, and you need to find an alternative form of transportation to get your child to and from school. If walking or bicycling is part of your child’s school transportation plan, be sure to prepare and plan ahead so your child will arrive safe and ready to learn.
Walking to School
Will your child walk to and from school? Children should walk with an adult or an older sibling until they are 10 years old. Map out the best and safest route for your child before school is back in session, and practice it a few times. This will get your child familiar with the route and with any crosswalks or intersections that may need negotiating. If possible, select a route with sidewalks, and try to avoid busy roads with high levels of traffic. Demonstrate safe walking behaviors by finding marked crosswalks or other designated crossing areas, stopping at any curbs and looking LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT before crossing the street. Check out the Safe Routes to School resource Teaching Children to Walk Safely as they Grow and Develop to guide children of all ages as they develop safe walking behaviors.
Bicycling to School
Your child is going to school to develop his or her brain; be sure to protect that brain with a helmet! Helmets are the most important piece of safety equipment for bicycle riders. Just as with walking, it’s also important to help your child select the safest bicycle route before starting the school year. This guide of bicycle skills a child should have before riding to school from Safe Routes to School can help you prepare your child for bicycling safely to and from school.
Safety Education is Continuous!
Whether your child is entering kindergarten or senior year, pedestrian and bicycle safety is a subject that can always be reviewed, practiced, and reinforced to ensure safe road behaviors continue throughout your child’s life.
Pedestrian Safety Tips from SafeKids Worldwide
Consejos de Seguridad para los Peatones from SafeKids Worldwide
Walking Safely from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Bike Safety Tips from SafeKids Worldwide
Consejos de seguridad para ir en bicicleta from SafeKids Worldwide
Bicycle Safety from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Leah Walton is a Safety Advocate in the NTSB Office of Safety Recommendations and Communication.