Young Children Under 8 Years Most at Risk
As children head back to school this fall, parents of certain-age elementary school children are asking themselves if their child is old enough to walk or ride their bicycle to school.
It’s a tough decision to make because pedestrian and bicycle accidents can turn deadly. In fact, roughly 33 percent of all children killed in pedestrian accidents between 2007 and 2016 were children ages 6 to 7 years old compared to 35 percent of children between 8 and 16 years old who died in pedestrian collisions.
Most schools have rules that determine what age a child may ride a bicycle to school, but depending on your proximity to the school you may want to wait longer to ensure their safety.
Indeed, children are always at risk on our roadways and more so as they head to and from school during the busy morning commute. That’s why it’s recommended that children be at least 10 years old to walk or ride a bicycle to school. They should never travel on busy roadways and stick to slower residential streets unless they are not supervised. By middle school, children are more experienced with traffic and should be able to ride on larger roads as their skills have had time to prepare them to ride with traffic.
As parents prepare their children to go back to school this year they will need to make a sometimes tough decision. It may be more convenient for the child to ride or walk themselves to school, but are they really ready. The decision to let your child ride alone is going to depend on each individual child and their abilities, the distance they will travel to their school as well as weather considerations on any given day.
Back to school stats and safety tips:
- 1,172 of the fatal traffic accidents (2006 and 2015) were school-related.
- 113 school bus occupants died in 2015 traffic collisions compared to 940 occupants of other non-school vehicles
- 23 people between 14-18 years old were killed in occupant vehicles while 53 occupant teens 19 and older were killed during those years
- 33 youth who were occupants in non-school vehicles were killed between 3-4 p.m.
- 64% of school pedestrians killed in crashes were hit by school buses and vehicles operating as school buses
- 36% of school pedestrians were fatally injured by non-school vehicles of several types
- Out of the 34 single-vehicle crashes for these years, 20 of the accidents were due to striking a fixed object
Considering these stats, here are some back to school safety tips from the NHTSA to keep in mind:
- Stand at least five steps away from the curb while waiting for a school bus
- The bus driver should tell your children when it’s safe to board the bus
- Have children sit forward in seats on the bus
- Stay on sidewalk if possible when walking to school
- Tell children not to horse play when they walk near the street
- Use crosswalks at all times when available
- Never drive distracted
- Always use seat belts
- Young children should always use car seats and booster seats
Remind your children of the importance of these back to school safety measures. Teenagers who drive themselves to school should also be aware of increased risks of driving during the time before and after school due to increased numbers of children walking and riding bicycles.
We hope that your children have a safe transition back to school.
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