Skip to content

Tips for kids to stay safe while walking/biking to and from school

Kindergarten through 12th grade students and their families should increase their precautionary measures next week when earlier mornings and shorter evening light are tough adjustments for most drivers, warns a safety expert at Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS). 

On Sunday, Nov. 6, people in the U.S. and Canada will “fall back” to standard time, setting their clocks back an hour and signaling the end of daylight saving time. 

Kathy Langdon, an IPS physical education and health coach leading the Take Care, Be Aware initiative for IPS, points out that the annual change could cause some commuters to suffer from drowsy driving in the coming days.

“There’s a great deal of research that shows that with daylight saving time coming to an end, more people will be spending more time driving in the dark in the early evenings,” she said. “Even though we have an extra hour of sleep, the change in our routines may lead to drowsy driving in the mornings.”

Langdon points out that research by AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that motorists who have slept less than five hours have a crash risk comparable to someone driving drunk. Also, reducing sleep by 2 to3 hours in a 24-hour period more than quadruples the risk of a drowsy-driving crash.

To help make walking or bicycling to school safer, Langdon urges students to take the following precautions:

  • Plan your route and share it with your family.
  • Walk facing traffic so you can react quickly.
  • Always use sidewalks and off-road, multiuse paths when possible. Stay off street and bike lanes to avoid danger.
  • Be Alert! Keep your head up.
  • Don’t assume others see you.
  • Don’t walk alone in the dark.
  • Wear bright colors or reflective clothing.
  • Do not wear headphones or use your phone while you are walking or riding.
  • Let your family or friends know your route.
  • Always give yourself more time to get to your destination.
  • Use book bags that have a strap. Wear book bags on your shoulder and don’t drag them on ground.
  • Use pedestrian walkways.

Langdon notes the district continues to make safety a key component with its Take Care, Be Aware campaign. Before the school year started, IPS provided each school with reflective vests, ponchos, flashlights, reflective cones, and stop/slow signs.

“In a world filled with fast-moving vehicles, our students must pay attention to what is going on around them,” Langdon said. “We have to make sure they understand that it’s up to each individual to ensure their safety.”