Back to School Walking Safety

By the Missoula Organization of Realtors

As the school year gets underway, it’s great to see more student walking to and from their bus stops and schools. Our kids are such an important part of the community that we want to remind parents and drivers to do their part to keep these kids safe. While on a national scale, the number of children injured walking to school has reduced overall, the number of teens at risk has gone up.  With all of the technological distractions, sometimes the basics of staying safe on the road get left behind.

Regardless of the age of your child, encourage them to remove earphones and make eye contact with drivers before crossing streets.

Tips for Walkers

  • Developmentally, most kids can’t judge speeds and distances until at least age 10, so younger kids need to always cross with an adult
  • Most walking injuries happen mid-block or someplace other than intersections; so whenever possible, cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks
  • Look left, right and left again before crossing the street, and keep looking and listening while crossing
  • Walk, don’t run, when crossing the street
  • It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths, but if there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible
  • Remove headphones when crossing the street
  • If you need to use your phone, stop walking
  • Distraction among drivers is at an all-time high today, so try to make eye contact with the driver before you step into the road

Tips For Drivers

  • Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and school zones, before and after school hours
  • Most walkers are injured mid-block, not at intersections, so watch out for kids who may dart into traffic or cross where they shouldn’t
  • Give pedestrians the right of way at a crosswalk
  • Technology in all its forms can distract drivers and pedestrians, try to limit use of these devices while you’re walking.  You can’t always guarantee that a walker won’t be distracted, but you can control your own use.

We are lucky.  Thank you to the vision of community leaders, Missoula already boasts a fantastic pedestrian system.  In recent years, programs like “Safe Routes to Schools” have helped to further ensure the safety of Missoula kids.  However, it still takes each of us doing our part to ensure no accidents occur.  Please share the tips above with the drivers and walkers in your family.

For more detailed information, please check out the Missoula Organization of Realtor’s website.