On Wednesday, October 8, students across the country will participate in International Walk to School Day by walking or biking to school. There are 55 schools in the greater Richmond area with AAA School Safety Patrol programs, eager to help students walk to school safely.
The Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education will co-sponsor an event at Swansboro Elementary School which has been designated as this year’s Richmond focus school. “We are rebuilding the School Safety Patrol program at Swansboro this year. The new safety patrollers are very excited to kick start their important roles with the International Walk to School Day event,” stated Jill Diefenbach, School Safety Patrol sponsor at Swansboro Elementary School.
Initiated in the U.S. in 1997 by the Partnership for a Walkable America, the events build awareness for the need for walkable communities and promote health and safety. In 2013, more than 4,400 events were recorded across the country.
“On a daily basis, the AAA School Safety Patrollers emphasize the importance of pedestrian safety by serving as traffic safety leaders in their schools and communities across the Commonwealth,” said Haley Glynn, Traffic Safety Community Educator for The Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education. “International Walk to School Day is an excellent event to raise awareness for youth fitness while highlighting safe paths for students to walk to and from school. On October, 8, Safety Patrollers across Virginia will wear their neon belts and shiny badges to help facilitate this worthy cause.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “In 2012, 4,743 pedestrians were killed and an estimated 76,000 were injured in traffic crashes in the United States.” NHTSA reports, “Children age 15 and younger accounted for 6 percent of the pedestrian fatalities in 2012 and 18 percent of all pedestrians injured in traffic crashes.” Nearly 300 pedestrians age 15 and under were killed in traffic crashes in 2012.
Safe Walking Tips from the Mid-Atlantic Foundation for Safety and Education and AAA Mid-Atlantic:
- Go directly to or from your destination using the safest route.
- Cross at corners.
- Cooperate with police, crossing guards and school safety patrols.
- Learn and obey all traffic signals.
- WALK across streets. Allow yourself plenty of time. Continue to look for approaching vehicles.
- Stop, look, listen and watch for turning vehicles.
- If you must walk on a road that has no sidewalks, walk facing traffic and as far from the road as possible.
- Be extra alert in bad weather. Drivers have trouble seeing and stopping in bad weather.
- If you must walk in the dark, wear reflective or light colored clothing and carry a flashlight.
- Stay alert. Don’t assume that cars are going to stop.