Children, teachers, and communities will be taking part in International Walk to School Month, which is in October. The aim of International Walk to School Month is to promote walking to school, which can be a good way for children to get exercise. This is especially important today, when obesity rates among school-aged children are so high. The other aim of International Walk to School Month is to promote safe and healthy routes to school.
Organizers of International Walk to School Month point out that children who walk to school year-round are at greater risk of being affected by pedestrian accidents and injuries, and organizers hope to reduce these personal injuries while helping to promote healthy activity for children. According to organizers of International Walk to School Month, there are several things that parents and communities can do to promote safer routes to school:
1) Promote good road safety. According to NHTSA, there are several reasons why children are more at risk for pedestrian accidents. One problem is that since children are smaller, they’re more difficult for drivers to see. Children who stand between parked cars are especially difficult for drivers to spot. Plus, younger children will often misjudge vehicle speeds and distances across the street, which can mean that they step out into dangerous situations. Parents can help their children by helping them understand how to cross streets safely. Children should be taught at an early age to always use sidewalks, and always wait until cars come to complete stop before crossing the road.
2) Encourage the buddy system. Younger children, especially, will often benefit by walking to school with older children. This will help ensure road safety, as well as safety from possible strangers. Parents may also want to walk younger children to school, so that they can teach them about traffic safety along the walk. According to the NHTSA, many parents assume that their children know how to cross the street and read traffic signals, even when this is not true. Parents should make an effort to teach children traffic signals and basic traffic safety rules.
3) Avoid having children walking in the evening. Poor lighting can encourage pedestrian accidents. Children, especially younger children, should always be encouraged to walk only in the daylight.
4) Make children visible. Brightly colored clothes can help drivers spot younger children. When selecting clothing to wear to school, it is also important that parents make sure that hats, scarves, and other clothing items do not block or impede children’s visibility. Make sure that your child can see clearly. This allows the child to spot cars and other potential dangers on the road.