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School Safety

Getting to and from school safely

Using active transportation (such as walking, riding a bike, rollerblading, skateboarding, running, or jogging) to get to and from school is part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s good for children’s mental and physical health.

There are many ways to lower your child’s risk of getting injured going to and from school. These include:

  • watching over your child (supervision)
  • making sure the area is safe (safe environments)
  • teaching your child to watch for danger (hazard awareness)
  • making sure activities are right for your child’s age (age-appropriate)

When can my child walk to school on their own?

Safety research shows young children do not have the mental skills they need to cross the road safely. It’s important to teach your child about pedestrian (a person walking) safety when they begin to walk with you.

Teaching your child about pedestrian safety depends on their age and what they can understand (their development). Your child will start to have the skills to get around safely in busier areas with lots of traffic and traffic lights between ages 9 and 11 years. Keep this in mind when teaching your child. Match your teaching to their development.

Make sure your child can show you that they know how to cross the road safely before you let them walk alone to or from school or play in your neighbourhood without you watching them.

When can my child bike to school on their own?

Complex skills like balancing the bike, watching for traffic, and paying attention to road signs take training, practice, and time to learn. Children aren’t ready to ride a bike alone on the road until they:

  • understand road safety rules
  • know how to signal
  • know how to avoid major risks

Make sure your child can show you their bike and road safety skills before you let them bike to school on their own. Young children should always ride with you or another adult, even if they take the same route often (such as going between home and school).

Where can I find more information on teaching my child to get to and from school safely?

SafeRoads Alberta has free information on how to stay safe when walking or riding a bike on the road and in your community. It includes how to use intersections and crosswalks safely and how to make sure cars see your child when they’re walking or riding a bike.

To learn more about making school areas safer for children who walk and ride bikes, go to Parachute Elementary Road Safety.

Current as of: August 6, 2020

Author: Provincial Injury Prevention Program, Alberta Health Services