Law Enforcement, Experts and Advocates Discuss How to
Keep Children Safer As They Travel to and From School
Fifty years ago, half of school-age kids in the USA walked or biked to school; cities with climates like Las Vegas saw a much higher number. Everyone walked or biked, it was part of the school day. According to the National Household Travel Survey released last September, the number of kids who walk or bike to school is now 11 percent and has been that dismal for over a decade. What changed? Are parents fearful for their children’s safety, or is it just easier to drop off your kids on the way to work?
Today, law enforcement from the Clark County School District Police and LVMPD joined experts in walking and biking safely to school. Also joining the presenters was the director of Clark County Safe Kids to address safety tips and reminders we all need as school kicks off for the 2023-2024 school year.
Every year, advocates urge parents to allow their children to walk or bike to school. The students who do have gained tremendous benefits. They learn more because of the benefits of exercise and they form lasting friendships with neighborhood kids. This leads to better mental health, and of course, physical health. Children who walk and bike to school also learn to navigate traffic, making them better drivers down the road…
Interestingly, research also shows the long-term effects of walking and biking to school. A study released by Rutgers University in September 2022 reported that children who walk and bike to school are seven times more likely to be active commuters than teens and adults who didn’t walk.
Everyone knows the dangers that come from being a teen driver, mostly stem from inexperience. Distractions, like friends are in the car, significantly increase crash numbers. Officer Keith Habig of CCSD Police, and the Zero Teen Fatalities officer for Southern Nevada, discussed tips for parents along with the laws in Nevada for teen drivers and transporting friends. The annual Youth Risk Behavior Study reports that 43 percent of teen drivers reported they don’t buckle up as often when friends are in the car.
At the other end of the spectrum, Jeanne Marsala, RN, Director of Safe Kids Clark County discussed why Nevada’s law requires children less than 57” tall, or 4’9”, needed to be in a booster seat. School kids from 1st to 4th grade were on hand to visually show who should be in a booster seat. Ms. Marsala also discussed the importance of these height requirements, and the consequences of not being in the proper restraint.
Safe Routes to School Director Jennifer Grube talked about the importance of planning a safe route for kids to take to school. She also explained why practicing the route with your child is so important along with reminding them about safety rules daily. Ms. Grube also encouraged parents who feel the walk is too far to park a few blocks away and walk in with their children, it’s a great time for bonding!
Sgt. Juan Wibowo of CCSD Police discussed driving in school zones and school crossing zones, including all the laws that will be in effect starting Monday and how not to get a ticket. Sgt Wibowo also shared some of issues that came up last year along with some sobering statistics. Sadly, children are hit far too often on their way to and from school. With school children, far more often than with adult pedestrians, it is the driver who is at fault. In pedestrian crashes involving kids traveling to and from school, very often it is a parent of another student who is involved.
The backdrop for the event showcased 30 pieces of art designed to address pedestrian safety by students of all ages in Clark County. Our Save A Life, Win A MacBook project branched out this year to expose more people to these important messages designed by some really talented students.