Many adults have fond memories of walking to school with friends and having little adventures along the way. Today, fewer than 13% of children are developing those memories because the private car has become the transportation of choice. But there are lots of good reasons to get kids walking.

Each private car that is used to drive a child to school uses approximately 180 additional gallons of fuel per year, averaging $663. Up to one-third of morning traffic is estimated to be parents driving kids to school.

Half of children struck by cars near schools are hit by parents driving other children to school. Children exposed to traffic pollution are more likely to have asthma, permanent lung deficits, and a higher risk of heart and lung problems as adults. One-third of schools are in “air pollution danger zones” due to proximity to high-traffic areas. Plus, 33% of all youth are overweight or obese and 23 percent get no daily exercise.

The Safe Routes to School Program (SR2S) promotes education, enforcement and engineering strategies in communities to make walking and biking to school safer and more popular. Visit to find out if your community participates in the program. Also, work with other parents and your children’s school to develop a “walk to school” program that promotes walking groups, safe walking habits, and parent volunteers to walk with groups of kids.

Meanwhile here are some general tips for safe walking:

• Buddy up; walk with siblings or neighbors
• Children under 10 should not cross the street alone
• Walk on sidewalks or paths
• If you must walk in the road, walk facing traffic
• Never play in the road
• Never run into or across the street
• Look all ways and make double sure no cars are coming
• Make eye contact with drivers when crossing a street to make sure they see you
• Remember that in bad weather it takes longer for cars to stop, so give them time to come to a complete stop
• Never walk into a street in the middle of the block or from between parked cars
• Wear bright colors
• Wear reflectors
Reprinted from the Foster Parent College "Connections" newsletter