According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 10 years is the recommended age for kids walking to school alone. This puts a child in either the fourth or fifth grade. Any younger, and kids could run the risk of encountering potential dangers like distracted drivers or adult predators.
Three Walk-to-School Safety Factors
It should be noted that under Ohio law, a child may walk to school alone at any age. However, as a parent, sending your kid off to school too young could have major repercussions. Your child could sustain injuries due to a negligent driver or find themselves lost on the way home. Therefore, it’s important to consider these three factors:
Is your child’s school around the corner? Or do they have to walk more than five blocks? These are questions you should ask yourself when thinking about the possibility of your child’s independence. You also must remember how distance feels to a kid. One mile is a long way to walk when your body is still developing. If fatigue sets in, an adolescent might make the wrong decision when remembering directions on the way home.
Something else to consider is the number of major roadways a long distance could include. If you’re worried about your child crossing a heavily trafficked road, it might be worth it to walk them across that specific road. From there, you can send them off to school by themselves the rest of the way. This eliminates any dangers of the road, but still gives them the independence to walk to school.
Any road without a sidewalk poses an immediate threat to pedestrians. Making sure your child has a safe sidewalk is a top priority. Before approving your child to walk alone, you should practice the walk with them. Here you can make sure all sidewalks are connected and include these three aspects:
- Elevation – Sidewalks that are higher than the road eliminates the potential for cars to strike pedestrians.
- Distance from the road – A good rule of thumb for sidewalk safety is to keep at least 5-10 ft. between a sidewalk and the road. This gives walkers space away from cars passing by.
- Proper signage – Signs that indicate crossings and rights-of-way help both drivers and pedestrians alike. A simple warning for a car can help them slow down ahead of time and avoid anyone in their path.
3. Safety in Numbers
Does your child have a neighborhood friend they can walk with? Walking to school with a buddy can make your kid’s excursion much safer. Plus, if you’re still worried about having a parent present, you could rotate with the neighbor’s parent for escorting the kids. That way, neither you nor the other child’s parent has to do the walk every day.
As previously mentioned, making the trek across a busy road can be rather daunting for a child. Luckily, a lot of schools have crossing guards directing traffic at major intersections near campus. This reassures parents that their child isn’t alone. Guards can also make for a safe walking experience by watching out for unfamiliar cars or suspicious people.
Advocates for Pedestrian Justice
Sometimes following the guidelines above still isn’t enough to avoid danger. If your child experienced an injury during a walk to school, your family could qualify for compensation. At Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A., our team of attorneys has experience representing a variety of pedestrian accidents. We strive to give our clients maximum compensation for their unpleasant circumstances.
For more information on our pedestrian accident attorney, contact us today!