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NHTSA 39-14
Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Contact: Derrell Lyles, 202-366-9550, Public.Affairs@dot.gov

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, Transportation Secretary Foxx and Deputy Secretary Mendez will participate in the 18th Annual Walk to School Day, which is meant to inspire community-based events to celebrate health, a sense of community, and most importantly, safety. Students, parents, school officials, and community leaders walk or bicycle to school together annually for International Walk to School Day. Secretary Foxx will walk to school with children from Cotswold Elementary School in Charlotte, N.C. and Deputy Secretary Mendez will walk to school with children from Ketchum Elementary School in Washington, D.C.

The Department uses this day to urge drivers to keep pedestrians and bicyclists safe by obeying speed limits and other state driving laws when near school zones, not driving while impaired or distracted, and always keeping a sharp look-out for all pedestrians and bicyclists.

“Walking and biking can be fun and healthy ways for our kids to get to and from school, but we all need to watch out for them,” said Secretary Foxx. “As parents, we should urge our children to walk and bike safely, but as drivers we have a special responsibility to be alert to kids walking and biking – particularly in school zones.”

Walking and biking offer clear health benefits, but there are also dangers involved, especially for school-aged children. About 100 children from ages five to 18 are killed while walking or biking during school travel each year.

To help make walking a biking safer for all Americans, Secretary Foxx launched the Safer People, Safer Streets initiative on September 10, 2014. This comprehensive and coordinated approach builds off our existing work to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety.

“Secretary Foxx and everyone at the Department are committed to working with our safety partners across the country to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety, particularly for young people,” said NHTSA Deputy Administrator David Friedman. “This has to be a team effort with the Department, communities, parents, and drivers all committed to protecting our kids.”

NHTSA has provided several key safety tips to help students and parents stay safe when walking or riding a bicycle to school:

Driving

  • Look out for pedestrians everywhere, at all times. Safety is a shared responsibility.
  • Use extra caution when driving in hard-to-see conditions, such as nighttime or in bad weather.
  • Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or otherwise entering a crosswalk.
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks and stop well back from the crosswalk to give other vehicles an opportunity to see the crossing pedestrians so they can stop too.
  • Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing that you can’t see.
  • Never drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Follow the speed limit, especially around people on the street.
  • Follow slower speed limits in school zones and in neighborhoods where there are children present.
  • Be extra cautious when backing up – pedestrians can move into your path.

Walking

  • Pedestrians 10 years old and younger should be accompanied by an adult or young adult on their way to and from school.
  • Walk on the sidewalk, but if there is none, walk as far left as possible facing traffic.
  • Do not push or shove others when you walk.
  • When crossing the street, look left-right-left for cars, and keep looking as you cross.
  • Use a crosswalk if available, and do not cross if a car is coming.

Biking

  • When bicycling to and from school, your two best protections are a properly fitted bicycle helmet, and a good grasp of traffic safety rules.
  • Always wear a helmet and make sure to buckle the chin strap.
  • Ride on streets with low traffic volume and lower speeds.
  • Always ride in the same direction as traffic, and obey all stop signs and signals.
  • Never use headphones or cell phones while riding.

For more NHTSA back-to-school safety tips for pedestrians and bicyclists please visit Parents Central.

Stay connected with NHTSA via: Facebook.com/NHTSA | Twitter.com/NHTSAgov | YouTube.com/USDOTNHTSA | SaferCar.gov

U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
1-888-327-4236
1-800-424-9153 (TTY)