What’s the Safest Way for Kids to Get to School?

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There's no designated age when children are ready to walk to school alone. Every home has to make that decision based on its own individual criteria. Some parents may be pressured to do it earlier because of scheduling demands, and other may decide it's part of the process of teaching their child independence. However, safety is the ultimate concern when children leave the house alone. But just how dangerous is it?

The Law

Children are legally entitled to walk to and from school by themselves. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 defends the freedom that kids have to do so, so parents shouldn't fear that letting their kids walk unattended through the area where they live is an act of negligence.

What Do Experts Say?

Just how big a challenge walking to school is can depend on how old your child is though age isn’t always the deciding factor. According to the Safe Routes to School Program’s guidelines, kids should be at least 10 years old to manage safely crossing the street alone. However, the number of children who head out to school alone in the morning has dropped by 13 percent since 2009. Almost half the population of American students from kindergarten through the eighth grade walked or rode a bike to school by themselves in past decades when there was less social anxiety about safety.

What Are the Actual Dangers?

Trending data shows that American streets are not as great a threat to children as parents may worry. Streets are better designed for pedestrian crossing than they were in the past, and crossing guards are usually stationed at intersections that kids are likely to use. That being said, according to the Law Offices of Ronald A Ramos, “more children suffer serious school bus accident injuries as pedestrians than as passengers.” You will want to evaluate the conditions present in the pedestrian routes your children will take to school before you let them walk.

Is Being Driven as Opposed to Walking as Safe as It Seems?

This may come as a surprise to parents, but according to Thomas Built Buses, the classic yellow school bus is safer than a passenger vehicle when it comes to traveling to school Monday through Friday. The seat design in school buses offers greater support to a child in the event of a collision, and new buses have seat belts. Fatality statistics prove that children who take district-provided buses are 50 times safer than those who walk or get driven.

Nothing makes a parent more nervous than the day their kid leaves the house for the first time and heads to school alone. While statistics are valuable in the decision-making process, some parents may prefer to follow their instinct and trust that the youngsters in their home will use the necessary caution and common sense they raised them with to safely make it to school and back without them.

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