During International Walk to School Month, school nurses from Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust are urging parents and teachers to make road safety a top priority.
To encourage families to tackle inactivity among children by walking to school, October has been designated as International Walk to School Month. The results of an annual National Travel Survey released in 2016 showed that the number of children walking to school in the UK had reached an all-time low. While 70 percent of children walked to school a generation ago, that figure today is just 48 percent.
Cheryl Forrest, Service Manager at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust who oversees school nurses, said:
“There is on average six children under the age of five who are killed or seriously injured on the roads every week. With International Walk to School Month being marked this month, it is, therefore, crucial children are made aware of road safety, cycle safety and how to handle traffic at a young age. As the days get shorter and darker, the roads can become more and more hazardous and it is all the more important to be careful. Our school nurses are already promoting top tips about walking that encourage children to be careful when walking or cycling alone, with friends or with parents.”
The largest numbers of child injuries occur between 8am to 9am and 3pm to 7pm. During these times there are around 16 deaths or serious injuries to children under 16 every week. In 2014 alone, 187 children aged 0-4 were killed or seriously injured while on foot in the UK, while some 85 cyclists aged 8-11 were killed or seriously injured.
The Trust has some top tips to keep families safe when walking to and from school and other journeys:
- Make holding hands your number one rule for when walking together
- Teach your child the Green Cross Code – Stop Look and Listen
- Wear something reflective or brightly coloured when walking in the dark
- If you are using a buggy/push chair on a hilly street, strap your wrist to the buggy handle then if you slip and let go, the buggy won't roll away
- Ask your school or Local Authority about cycle training in your area. Your child shouldn’t cycle on roads until they have been trained
- Check your child’s bike to see if it’s roadworthy: look at brakes, tyres and lights/reflectors (when riding at dusk or at night you must have white front lights and red back lights and reflectors)
- Make sure the bike is the right size for your child
- Make sure your child wears a helmet which fits and is worn correctly, it should not be pushed too far back on the head
- Ensure your child wears some high-visibility clothing when cycling