AAA tips: Is your child ready to walk to school?
DENVER, August 18, 2015 — Most school districts in Colorado will be starting the year in the middle part of August. With warm summer days, walking to and from school might seem like a good option. Walking is good exercise for children, but it is up to parents to decide if walking to school or to the bus stop is safe for their child. There is no federal or Colorado law setting a legal age minimum before children can walk to school alone. However, the school district or school where the child attends may have a policy that prohibits children under a certain age from walking to school without an adult.
When deciding if it is safe for a child to walk to school AAA Colorado recommends that parents should consider the child’s age and abilities and the amount of traffic. Children under the age of 9 or 10 usually do not have the skills to walk alone in areas with traffic. However, it is less a matter of chronological age and more about whether children have demonstrated that they can safely walk and cross streets independently. Also, the volume and speed of traffic between home and school may not allow a safe route for the child. Parents should assess their individual child’s skills and teach safe behavior.
After deciding if a child is safe to walk to school, AAA Colorado offers these five ways parents can ensure a safer commute for their children.
- Walk with children many times to familiarize them with the route. This creates an opportunity to point our potential traffic hazards and situations to avoid.
- Have children walk in a group. With more eyes and ears, they can cross streets together and negotiate dangerous situations more safely. Having an adult walk with the group can make the trip even safer.
- Talk with children about traffic safety and teach them when and where it is safest to cross streets. Always use crosswalks yourself in order to model safe behavior.
- Don’t forget to emphasize the importance of visually scanning dangerous areas such as driveways and parking lots.
- Remind children to take their time, to stop, look both ways and listen when crossing streets, even when there is a well-marked crosswalk.
Drivers and pedestrians alike share the responsibility of keeping themselves and others on the road safe. As congestion increases in school zones during the coming days, all drivers are reminded to slow down and obey posted school-zone speed limits and to minimize distractions. Use extra caution when children are present since children are less focused on basic traffic safety.
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