Children encouraged to walk to school Oct. 6
It should be one of the most carefree journeys a child makes the trek to and from school. Yet, a number of factors conspire against children to make it a high-risk trip:
The importance of providing safe routes to schools is a critical part of transportation. Idaho expects to join other states across the nation next year in focusing resources to improve school routes and ensure children the carefree journey they should expect.
The need for safe routes is clear.
In Idaho last year, 57 children ages 4-14 were injured in pedestrian crashes, and another 110 children in the same age range were involved in bicycle crashes. Ninety-nine percent of bicyclists received some form of injury, according to the Idaho Office of Traffic and Highway Safety. Although bike helmets are effective in preventing 85 percent of the head injuries, only 15 percent of cyclists involved in crashes in 2003 were wearing the protective gear.
"Until about age 10, most kids haven't developed the skills to safely cope with traffic," said Josephine O'Connor of the OTHS. "They typically act on impulse, they can't judge car speed very well, and they assume that if they see you in a car, you can see them."
The Idaho Transportation Department joins school districts throughout the state in promoting Walk to School Day Oct. 6. Parents, teachers and school administrators are asked to plan activities on that date to encourage children with appropriate adult supervision to walk rather than ride school buses or arrive in the back seat of the family van.
The Walk to School Day was organized in 1994 in Hertfordshire Council, Great Britain. Three years later it was introduced in the United States by the Partnership for a Walkable America with an event in Chicago; another followed later in the year in Los Angeles. The initiative received its own designated week in the U.S. the same year. More than 170,000 Americans from 58 communities participated the following year.
While the journey to school is the primary focus, Walk to School also:
For information about the international event, see the organizations web site at: http://www.iwalktoschool.org/
Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne joined youngsters in Boise along one of the pedestrian routes last year.
Some Idaho schools have used the event as a catalyst to improve traffic and safety conditions around their facilities; others participated last year to create a fun and educational event, enabling parents to walk with their children and reinforce safety procedures in the process.
Anyone interested in organizing a formal activity in Idaho
as part of the International Walk to School event should contact the
appropriate school office or coordinate with the state Department of