(LOS ANGELES, October 4, 2005) — Many more children than usual may be walking to and from school Wednesday as part of "International Walk Your Child to School Day," and the Automobile Club of Southern California warns motorists and pedestrians to be extra careful.
Walk Your Child to School Day was developed to enhance the health of children, reduce car trips to school and to create safer routes for children who walk or bike to school.
"Nationwide, an estimated 3,500 schools are expected to participate in Walk Your Child to School Day, so motorists may encounter more children and parents crossing streets near schools than they normally see," said Carol Thorp, managing director of school and community programs for the Auto Club. "Potentially, this can lead to dangerous situations for children unfamiliar with the rules of pedestrian safety."
The Auto Club has the following tips for parents and children who walk to school tomorrow:
- Plan your route in advance to know the controlled intersections and cross walks.
- Cross only on the white "walk" sign and on a new green light so you have time to cross safely.
- If there is no signal light, cross only at corners so drivers can see you.
- Look all ways before crossing to see moving cars.
- Never cross the street from between parked cars. Drivers can't see you.
- If there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the road facing traffic so you can see oncoming cars.
The Auto Club has the following tips for motorists:
- Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. Rushing causes many crashes.
- Stay alert for children crossing streets at all locations, not just corners and intersections.
- Drive slowly in residential areas.
- Check vehicles' headlights, taillights, brake lights and turn signals to ensure they are in proper working condition.
- Clean windows and headlights to improve visibility.
"Walking to school is good exercise for children, but there are criteria parents should use when deciding if walking is safe for a child," Thorp said. "Children under age nine or ten usually don't have the skills needed to be safe in areas with traffic. Also, parents should consider traffic speed and volume, distance to school and whether or not there are crossing guards at intersections.