Study: Many kids cross roads dangerously

30% of pupils walk to school in a way that endangers their safety; 58% of children get to school by walking.

back to school 248.88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
back to school 248.88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Thirty percent of pupils who walk to school cross the street to reach the building in a way that endangers their safety, according to a study released by Beterem, the National Center for Child Safety and Health, on Tuesday, ahead of next Monday's scheduled start of the 2008/2009 school year. The study, carried out a few weeks before the end of the last school year in June, was based on observations of more than 5,200 schoolchildren in 22 communities around the country. According to Beterem, 58% of all children get to school by walking. Forty-three percent of children crossed the street to school in a dangerous way. Dangerous ways for children to cross the street include doing so by themselves if they're under age nine; not carrying out the instructions of the safety patrol; and running into the street without looking in all directions for approaching traffic. More than a quarter of children were seen to get to school in a private vehicle. Of these, 33% exited the car in a dangerous way. The observers also found that many vehicles bringing children to school stopped in a place where it is forbidden, double parked or parked on the crosswalk. Thirteen percent of children were taken to school by organized transport, and of these, 36% got out of the van or bus in a way that risked their lives. A bit more than 1% of the children got to school on a bicycle, but only 41% wore a helmet - which is required by law. The infrastructure near many schools is dangerous; the sidewalks have large holes, are blocked by garbage cans, cars, poles or trees, or are not continuous, or are not wide enough to constitute a sidewalk or at the same level as the street. More than half of the schools had no parking lots or had only a small number of parking places. Also, 58% of schools observed had no safety patrols on duty 15 minutes before the first bell. The observers found drivers acted dangerously outside 97% of the schools. Beterem recommends that children under nine be accompanied by an adult when crossing the street. Parents should choose the safest way from home to school and practice going there with their children. Pupils should be taught not to cross the street between parked cars or from behind buses or bushes; they must learn to cross at crosswalks slowly, paying attention to lights, signals and signs, as well as to the safety patrol. Act as models for your children, never crossing at a red light. If you drive your children to school, insist they wear suitable seat belts for every trip. Every child under nine must be accompanied by an adult while waiting at a bus station and when getting on or off a bus or van. Children should sit on the seat in the bus until it comes to a full stop and do so from the front rather than a back door. Anyone on a bicycle must wear a helmet, and children should not be allowed to ride bikes in the streets, Beterem said.