Encouraging Children to Walk to School by Focusing on Safety - Diamond and Diamond Lawyers
  • Monday, 09 October 2017

Encouraging Children to Walk to School by Focusing on Safety

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Children either use a school bus or are driven by their parents instead of walking or biking to and from school according to a survey reported in the Toronto Star. The survey showed a steady decline in the number of children walking to school while those being driven by parents jumped to 33 percent. Encouraging children to walk to school is one method of combating weight gainand other issues caused by a lack of physical exercise, but it must be accompanied by programs to improve safety while walking to school.

Age at which children should be allowed to walk to school

Determining the age at which a child is ready to walk to school unaccompanied by a parent or guardian depends on the child and the comfort level of the parents. Safety experts believe nine years of age is an appropriate time for children to be allowed to head off to school on their own. Parent, however, indicated a reluctance to allow their children to walk to school alone until they were at least a couple of years older.

Factors parents might want to consider when trying to decide if their children are ready to walk to school by themselves include the following:

  • Maturity level of the child
  • Temperament and ability to refrain from impulsive actions
  • Distance between home and school
  • Route safety, including presence of sidewalks and amount of traffic

What parents can do to help keep their children safe while walking to school

Teaching children how to recognize hazards and what to do to avoid them is up to parents. Parents can begin teaching their children how to safely walk to and from school by accompanying them and reviewing safety tips with them. Parents should focus on the following when teaching safe walking to their children:

  • Selecting the most direct route to school, but keeping safety in mind. For example, the most direct route might not have sidewalks or might not have traffic signals at intersections. Parents should find an alternative route.
  • Identify and discuss hazards along the route. These might include train tracks or busy intersections. Children should be taught how to safely deal with such hazards and should be observed until parents are satisfied they are following proper safety rules.
  • Encourage children to walk on sidewalks or to walk on the left side of the roadway facing toward traffic when sidewalks are not available.
  • Streets should not be crossed except at intersections. Preference should be given to routes with designated crosswalks attended by school crossing guards.
  • Show children how to look left, right and left again to determine it is safe before crossing. Children should be encouraged to do this even at intersections controlled by electronic walk signs.
  • Children should not cross the street until all traffic comes to a complete stop.

Regardless of their age, children should not be allowed to walk to school unaccompanied by an adult until they demonstrate their ability to follow these safety measures. Whenever possible, children should be encouraged to walk to school with friends. Parents and school officials can help by matching children with each other based on where they live and the routes they take to school to make it possible for them to have a partner with whom to walk.

Getting advice about accident compensation

If your child is injured while walking to school, you should speak to the trusted personal injury lawyers at Diamond & Diamond. They bring years of experience obtaining compensation for accident victims injured due to the negligent conduct of others. Don’t delay, contact our 24/7 injury hotline at 1-800-567-HURT or visit our website to speak to someone now about your claim. Consultations are free, and we have offices located throughout Ontario.

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