Tomorrow Walk to School Day Highlights Need for Safe Walking Skills

(October 4, 2016) – National Walk to School Day is almost here, and the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration (SHA) reminds everyone to Look Up, Look Out and Stay Alert when walking to school and driving through school zones – especially tomorrow when there will be so many more children walking. Schools across the State are participating in the annual event sponsored in part by the Safe Routes to School program.

“There is no contest between a child and a vehicle; let’s all Look Up and Look Out for each other, especially on Walk to School Day, when thousands of students will be traveling to school on foot, ” said SHA Administrator Gregory C. Johnson. “On Walk to School Day – and beyond – safety starts by walking smart and employing the basics such as using crosswalks, looking left right left, and staying alert. We also proudly support #Commit2Ten to encourage adding 10 more minutes of physical activity a day, and Walk Maryland Day, a motivating event that promotes physical activity in the form of walking.”
As part of the Look Up| Look Out |Walk Smart campaign, SHA and partners reminded students and drivers about pedestrian safety before the launch of the 2016/17 school year.  The campaign advocates that parents and students should review the rules of the road, especially for walking to school, biking, and waiting for the school bus. Drivers need to remember that children will be traveling to and from school, to always stop for pedestrians, be aware of school buses in the traffic mix, and be prepared for extra traffic, and possible traffic delays.

About National Walk to School Day, October 5, 2016

National Walk to School Day highlights the benefits of walking and biking to school:
• It’s Fun: Walking and bicycling bring a sense of joy and independence.
• Healthier Habits: The trip to school is a chance for children (and adults!) to get the physical activity they need.
• Cleaner Environment: Replacing car trips to school with walking or bicycling can reduce congestion and air-polluting emissions.
•  Reducing traffic congestion, boosting a sense of community, and improving neighborhood connections benefit the community.
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About #Commit2Ten:

Only 1 in 3 children is physically active each day. To spread the word about the lack of physical activity in schools—and across the country—the Alliance for a Healthier Generation is launching #Commit2Ten, a campaign challenging the nation to add 10 more minutes of physical activity a day.
Commit2Ten invites individuals, families, schools, afterschool programs, companies, and communities to prove that a little more physical activity makes a big difference.

About Walk Maryland Day:
• Promote physical activity opportunities where Marylanders learn, work, and live
• Engage the community in walking for daily physical activity
• Support safe walking in Maryland through enhanced state agency coordination
• Promote school participation in Walk Maryland Day
• Promote individual participation in Walk Maryland Day
• Promote worksite participation in Walk Maryland Day by directing Healthiest Maryland Businesses and other Maryland worksites to walking resources

To further enhance the safety of children, SHA offers the following tips:

For pedestrians:

• Use sidewalks and marked cross walks whenever possible.
• Press the pedestrian signal button and wait for the walk signal.
• Always stop at the curb and look left, right and left before crossing a street.
• Watch for cars turning in or leaving driveways.
• Walk, don’t run across the street.
• Wear light or bright colored clothing.
• Pay attention take off headphones while walking – no
texting or playing games.
For drivers:
• Always stop for pedestrians.
• Obey traffic signs, signals and markings.
• Don’t run red lights.
• Observe posted speed limits. Speeding only makes it more
difficult to stop for pedestrians.
• Keep your eyes on the road. It’s illegal to use a handheld phone/device or text while driving.
• When a school bus stops, the flashing red lights go on and the stop sign flaps come out, drivers in BOTH directions are required to stop. This is the most dangerous time as children get on or off the bus. 
• It is against the law to pass a stopped school bus with its flashing red lights activated and stop arm extended.
• Drivers must be patient. There is simply no room for aggressive driving around a school bus.

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