Walking to school

Pedestrian safety for children

By Garett Richardson, Alberta Health Services

AHS-Safe school walk

Learn more at www.saferoads.com

Believe it or not, school is right around the corner. With that come many children starting to gain independence by walking to school or the bus stop. It’s important for children to stay safe by following some simple steps.

Children aged five to nine years old are at an increased risk for pedestrian-related injuries. Children under nine still have immature judgment and perceptual skills. They will often want to show their independence by crossing the street. However, children of this age should still be accompanied by a responsible older child, parent or other responsible adult.

Begin teaching children traffic safety and how to cross the street safely at an early age. Use the phrase “Stop, Look, Cross” while stopping before stepping off the sidewalk to cross the street. Look for traffic and be sure vehicles have stopped. When all traffic has stopped, it is safe to cross the street.

You can also use “Point, Pause, Proceed” to teach children how to cross the street. After stopping, children should point across the street to signal to traffic that they would like to cross. The child would then pause to make sure all traffic has stopped before crossing the street.

As a parent, remember to model this behavior for your child. Walking on the sidewalk and using marked crosswalks are things you want to show your child to do. If there are no marked crosswalks, cross at an intersection after waiting for all traffic to stop.

Walking to school is a great way for kids to stay active. Physical activity is linked to improved academic performance, better behavior and overall health.

For more information on pedestrian safety and walking to school, visit Safe Roads Alberta at saferoads.com, SHAPE Alberta at shapeab.com, or Parachute Canada at www.parachutecanada.org.

For a variety of health information visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca or call Health Link at 811.

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