Parents should prepare children before walks to school

Walking to school can be invigorating before school and help children unwind after spending a day in the classroom, but it also brings inherent risks. Programs like Safe Routes to School help schools, cities and counties ensure routes are as safe as possible.

But parents and children need to use caution if they forego buses, bicycles, private vehicles or carpools. Consider the following suggestions:

  • Walk to school as part of a group, if possible, and always have a responsible adult with you.
  • Always walk on the sidewalk if one is available.
  • If no sidewalk is available, walk facing the traffic.
  • The safest place to cross a street or highway is at a corner or intersection.
  • Watch for vehicles entering the street at an intersection or from driveways.
  • If you are 10-years-old or younger, you need to cross the street with an adult. You should not cross by yourself.
  • Before you step off the curb to cross the street, stop, look to your left, then to your right and again to the left to see if cars are coming.
  • If a car approaches, make eye contact with the driver to ensure that he or she sees you.
  • Walk; don’t run. This gives time for drivers to see you before you enter the roadway. Running also makes you more likely to fall in the street. Don’t dart from between parked cars or from in front of a car. The driver of the car coming down the street will not be able to see you.
  • Obey all traffic signals and/or crossing guards. Never cross the street against a "don't walk" light, even if you don't see any traffic coming.
  • Be visible to others. Wear reflective material if walking or biking to school in low-light conditions. If a driver's vision is blocked by a parked car or other obstacle, move out carefully to where drivers can see you and you can see other vehicles.
  • Avoid wearing dark clothes at sunrise or sundown.
  • Never accept a ride unless your parents have specifically given permission, and NEVER accept a ride from a stranger. Report any suspicious contact by a stranger to your parents, teacher or other school official. Give a good description of the stranger and his/her vehicle, including the license number.

Published 8-16-13