Volunteers walked with students to identify unsafe intersections, streets needing sidewalks and dangerous areas where pedestrians either have been hit or nearly injured by a motor vehicle. Participating elementary schools included Esther Bennett, Caughlin Ranch, Glenn Duncan, Jesse Hall, Stead, Marvin Moss, Kate Smith, Bernice Mathews, Greenbrae, Katherine Dunn, Hidden Valley, Mount Rose, Grace Warner and Anderson.
“Parents and caregivers need to teach children safe behaviors and drivers must be aware and on the lookout for children on or near the road,” said Melissa Krall, Safe Kids Washoe County coordinator. “Walking is an important and healthy activity but everyone needs to do their part to keep this activity safe for kids. And while most of us would expect drivers to be alert and careful in and around schools, research from Safe Kids shows one out of every six drivers in school zones is distracted. This makes improving pedestrian safety in school areas particularly vital.”
Walk To School Day is a culmination of a variety of activities including morning safety announcements, school assemblies and safety poster contests that were made possible through the efforts of dedicated teachers, parent volunteers and nonprofit workers. Law enforcement from Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, Washoe County School Police and the cities of Reno and Sparks will be patrolling for pedestrian safety enforcement.
“This is an energizing event, reminding everyone of the uncomplicated joy of walking to school, the health benefits of regular daily activity, and the need for safe places to walk and bike,” said MJ Cloud, Safe Routes To School coordinator. “This is the perfect opportunity for students to learn how to remain injury-free as they walk to and from school.”
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among children ages 3 to 14 worldwide. While the number of child pedestrians injured in traffic crashes is decreasing in the United States, in 2009 more than 13,000 children ages 14 and younger went to the emergency room and 244 children died from pedestrian-related injuries.
Safe Kids Washoe County works to prevent accidental childhood injuries. The 2011 event marked the third anniversary of the introduction of the federal Safe Routes to School program, which was established through a cooperative partnership to encourage and enable Washoe County children to walk and bike to school safely.
In addition to pedestrian safety, Safe Routes to School focuses on improving the health of elementary school children. Statistics show childhood obesity rates have more than tripled in the past 30 years, while the number of children walking and biking to school has declined.
Safe Routes to School is funded by a $790,000 state grant.