Schools: Addressing the Behaviors of Parents and Caregivers

Those who drop-off and pick up their children from school or exceed speed limits in school zones often pose the greatest risk to child pedestrians and bicyclists. It is important that enforcement efforts include educating drivers and ticketing if necessary to encourage compliance of traffic laws and reinforce that safety is a priority.

While many elementary schools and some middle schools include pedestrian and bicycle safety education in the school curriculum, parents and caregivers continue to play the most influential role in their child's behavior. The more knowledgeable parents are about bicycle and pedestrian safety, the better models they can be for their children. The following handout discusses three important roles parents and caregivers play in enhancing the safety of children's walking and bicycling to school. Parents and caregivers are:

Parents and Caregivers as Teachers and Role Models

To be a good role model for walking and bicycling parents and caregivers need to know the safest walking and bicycling practices and use them. Law enforcement officers should remind parents and caregivers that children's cognitive abilities are still developing and they lack training and experience in traffic safety. Parents and caregivers need to teach and model safe behavior.

Key Messages for Parents: Child Development and Traffic Safety


For a parent handout see Preventing Bicycle Crashes: Parents and Caregivers

Key Messages for Parents: Modeling Safe Pedestrian Behavior

The following are the most important behaviors to teach children both through example and instruction.

For a parent handout, see NHTSA's Prevent Pedestrian Crashes: Parents and Caregivers.

For a child handout, see NHTSA's: A Kid's Guide to Safe Walking.

Key Messages for Parents: Modeling Safe Bicyclist Behavior

For a parent handout, see NHTSA's Preventing Bicycle Crashes: Parents and Caregivers

For a handout geared toward the child see NHTSA's Kids and Bicycle Safety (English) and in (Spanish).

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Parents and Caregivers as Decision Makers about Travel

Ultimately, parents and caregivers decide how their children will get to school and what routes they take to get there. Many factors play into this decision such as scheduling, distance, traffic and crime. Parents, should consider allowing their children to walk or bicycle to school as much as possible. The benefits of doing so include:

As a law enforcement officer, you can play an important role in encouraging more parents to support their child in walking or bicycling to school. Consult your local school to be informed of their policies and ensure that your encouragement messages to parents support the school's overall approach and Safe Routes to School Program.

Note: Children are strongly encouraged to walk and/or bicycle in groups with adult supervision. See below for more information based on the age of the child.

Key Encouragement Messages for Parents

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Parents and Caregivers as Drivers

Parents and caregivers driving on campus or in neighborhoods near school can play an important role in enhancing safety near schools by following safe driving practices. At arrival and dismissal times, drivers are often in a hurry and distracted. This tendency can lead to unsafe conditions for students and others walking, bicycling and driving in the area.

Key Messages for Parents and Caregivers When Driving:

Drivers should always:


The following related resources can be ordered and/or downloaded and used as handouts for distribution to the public:

Additional resources can be found on the Resources page, or at the National Center for Safe Routes to School.

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