Jul 7, 2016, 8:30:53 AM CDT Aug 31, 2022, 12:14:51 PM CDT

Safety tips for kids walking to school

Help kids walk safely to school with these tips from Children's Health

little girl walking to school with mother little girl walking to school with mother
Children should walk with an adult until they are at least 10 years old.

Walking to school can have many benefits for you and your kids, including spending time outdoors and starting the day with physical activity. Follow these tips to enable kids to walk safely to school.

Is it safe to walk to school?

During the back-to-school season, the Emergency Department at Children's Health℠ sees an increase in trauma-related pedestrian, bicycle and school bus injuries. Many of these injuries result from a collision with a vehicle and are preventable by following some simple safety guidelines.

"Unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages 5 to 19," says Jesus Alderete, Senior Injury Prevention Coordinator at Children's Health. "Together, we educate students about safe pedestrian behaviors, identify pedestrian hazards and work with schools and communities to improve environments for child pedestrians."

To help prevent pedestrian accidents, teach kids traffic safety rules and other ways to pay attention to safety while walking.

Walking to school safety tips

Keep your child safe with these tips for walking to school:

  • Children should walk with an adult until they are at least 10 years old.
  • Map out safe routes to school with your child before they head out on their own.
  • Encourage kids to stay off cell phones and not wear earphones. Kids should be able to hear their surroundings when walking to school.
  • Make sure children wear light-colored or bright clothing to be more visible to drivers.
  • Be mindful of pedestrian rules yourself to set a good example for your child.

How to help kids cross streets safely

From sidewalk safety to crosswalk safety, use these tips to help children cross streets safely:

  • Kids should hold a grown-up's hand when they cross the street or are in parking lots.
  • Always cross the street at a corner or crosswalk and obey traffic signals. Cross with a crossing guard if there is one.
  • Walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the street, facing oncoming traffic.
  • Look left, right, then left again before crossing the street. Continue looking both ways while you cross.
  • Do not cross behind a bus or between parked cars where a driver cannot see you.
  • Always make eye contact with drivers before you cross the street.

Evaluating safety along school routes

Each year, coalitions from Safe Kids create local task forces to improve safety along school routes. For example, these groups evaluate the placement and visibility of:

  • Curbs at school entrances
  • Pedestrian safety lights and countdown timers
  • Crossing signs
  • Crosswalks with flashing lights to alert drivers
  • Solar-powered flashing school zone and speed limit signs
  • Radar speed displays or Flexi-Posts

These measures help to increase the visibility of kids walking to school. Some can help slow down traffic. You can check for these safety measures by taking a practice walk around your child's route.

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injury prevention, outdoor recreation, physician advice, school transportation, transport safety

Childrens Health