As kids get ready to go back to classes, parents and caregivers should start talking about safe ways to walk or bike to school.
Children usually are ready to walk to school without an adult when they are in fifth grade or around 10 years old. Younger children are more impulsive and less cautious around traffic.
When walking with a young child to and from school:
- Hold your child’s hand and follow traffic safety laws when crossing streets.
- Obey all traffic signals and let the crossing guard help you.
- Look all ways before crossing the street and continue to watch for cars. Remind children that drivers may not see them.
- Consider walking in groups.
For older students walking to school without an adult:
- Make sure they stick to a safe route that has crossing guards at every intersection.
- Teach your child to cross at designated intersections. Most pedestrian deaths occur mid-block not at intersections.
- Have your child walk with at least one other child.
- Tell them to say “no” if someone they don’t know asks to give them a ride and to yell and run for help if needed.
- Explain that it’s not safe to use a cellphone while walking. It can distract them and make them less aware of traffic.
- Give a child with limited mobility or other disabilities extra time to learn safe pedestrian skills.
- Choose brightly colored backpacks, jackets and other accessories, ideally with reflective materials, for days when it gets dark earlier.
If children are biking to school, parents and caregivers should practice riding the route before the first day of class to make sure their child can manage the trip.
Bike riders also should do the following:
- Always wears a helmet and understand the rules of the road.
- Ride on the right side in the same direction as traffic and use bike lanes when available.
- Stop and look both ways before entering the street.
- Stop at all intersections, whether marked or unmarked.
- Obey traffic lights and stop signs.
- Use hand signals and look in every direction before turning.
For more information about safe walking and biking habits, visit HealthyChildren.org at https://bit.ly/45R36g7.