Fall is the perfect time to get out of cars and buses while enjoy some exercise on the way to school. More than 4,400 schools are signed up to take part in nationwide walk-to-school events for International Walk and Bike to School Day on Oct. 5 where students will learn about the benefits of walking to school and the best ways to stay safe. Want to see if there's an event in your area? Check out the official Walk and Bike to School site.
But you don't have to take part in an organized event to help your kids find the best routes to school. Here are some tips for teaching them to stay safe on their walk anytime of year:
1. Look left-right-left before crossing the road. Kids should also check the traffic in front of and behind them to make sure no cars are turning into the lane.
2. Keep gadgets stashed while walking. Headphones are fine for the walk but kids should take them off before they cross the street.
3. Cross at the corners. Use traffic signals and crosswalks, but don't assume that drivers will always give them the right-of-way.
4. Stay alert. Kids should pay attention to their surroundings and watch out for drivers in parked cars who may be getting ready to head out.
5. When possible, walk with a friend. Kids are safer and more visible when they walk in groups.
When kids can walk and bike to school safely, everyone wins. It keeps cars off the roads and helps kids start their day with exercise rather than bus fumes. Studies show that kids who bike and walk to school perform better at school than their car- and bus-riding peers.
Better grades, better health and a cleaner environment.
Got your walking shoes on yet?
Editor's note: This story was originally published in June 2015 and has been updated with new information.