A healthy walk to school has to start with safety. The physical environment, drivers and a pedestrian’s own behavior all play a role in safety. Children learn by watching others, so modeling safe pedestrian behavior is the best way to teach these valuable skills. What safe walking skills do children need to know? Consider these tips for Walk to School Day and every day:
- Choose routes that provide space to walk and bicycle, have the least amount of traffic, and have the lowest speeds.
- Obey all traffic signs and signals.
- Look for traffic at all driveways and intersections.
- If possible, cross with a crossing guard at an intersection with a walk signal or at a crosswalk.
- Stop at the curb and look for traffic in all directions (left, right, left, to the front and behind).
- At an intersection it is important to look in front and behind to check for turning vehicles. The second look to the left is to re-check for traffic that is closest to the pedestrian.
- Wait until there’s no traffic coming and start crossing: keep looking for traffic while crossing the road.
- Walk across the road. Do not run.
- Wear reflective gear if it is dark or if conditions like rain or snow limit visibility.
- Encourage adults to talk with kids about what traffic safety decisions they are making and why as they walk and bicycle together.
For more information about teaching children pedestrian safety, check out this resource developed by the National Center for Safe Routes to School that identifies which walking safety skills to teach based on the child’s age: Teaching Children to Walk Safely as They Grow and Develop: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers. http://www.saferoutesinfo.org/program-tools/education-teaching-children-walk-safely-they-grow-and-develop
Information provided by National Center for Safe Routes to School