October is Walk to School Month in New York
With the motto “Get up, Get out, and Get Moving!” the National Center for Safe Routes to School is using October to help promote walking as a healthy exercise and a way to reduce vehicle trips, congestion and pollution. In support of the campaign, the New York Department of Transportation joins other organizations across the state, U.S., and the world, in sponsoring International Walk to School Month.
New York DOT also supports Safe Routes to School, a federal, state and local effort to enable and encourage children, including those with disabilities, to walk and bicycle to school and to make walking and bicycling to school safe and appealing, and is accepting applications for sponsors this week. The goal of the program is to assist New York communities in developing and implementing projects and programs that encourage walking and bicycling to school while enhancing the safety of these trips.
According to the New York Department of Transportation, just 13 percent of children walk or bike to school, compared to over two-thirds 30 years ago.
According to iWalk, the official website of International Walk to School Month:
“International Walk to School Month gives children, parents, school teachers and community leaders an opportunity to be part of a global event as they celebrate the many benefits of walking. Walkers from around the world walk to school together for various reasons — all hoping to create communities that are safe places to walk.”
“Walk to School Day continues to inspire community-grown events that celebrate health, safety and a sense of community,” said Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School, which serves as the coordinating agency for the event. “Often, this one-day event becomes the catalyst to larger commitments and permanent improvements that make walking and bicycling to school safer transportation options year round.”
Our Binghamton car accident attorneys support this initiative aimed at getting our children and their parents active, however, we caution all motorists to be on the lookout for increased foot traffic during the month. Drivers should be extra cautious in neighborhoods and around schools where children congregate and may dart into traffic.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that in 2009, 4,092 pedestrians died in traffic crashes, and an estimated 59,000 pedestrians were injured. Of those injuries, 13,000 were younger than 14-years-old. Pedestrian deaths accounted for 12 percent of all traffic fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes.
The NHTSA offers the following tips for children to follow when walking:
- Always walk on the sidewalk facing traffic. Walk on the sidewalk if there is one. If there is no sidewalk and you have to walk on the road, walk facing traffic.
- Cross streets at corners or in crosswalks. Cross where pedestrians are expected. Follow pedestrian signs and signals, always watching for traffic to ensure you are seen.
- Be safe. Be seen. Brightly colored clothing makes it easier for drivers to see you during the daytime. At night, use a flashlight or wear reflective material on your shoes, cap, and jacket or on your arms or legs that bounce the car’s lights off you and back to the driver. This light cautions the river that there’s something or someone moving and they should slow down and be careful.
Parents should take the time to share these safety tips with their children as they head off on their walk to school. Motorists are reminded to share the road.
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