"If it's an option, leave your car, van, or SUV parked at home and let your kids ride the school bus, their bike, or walk to school," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "Not only are these options safer, a single school bus can take the place of multiple passenger cars, cutting down on traffic congestion and air pollution, and walking and biking are good choices that improve the health of our kids."
Walking and biking are also consistent with first lady Michelle Obama's nationwide "Let's Move" challenge to solve the epidemic of childhood obesity in America, LaHood said. Community leaders and parents across the country can tap into the Safe Routes to School program for information and resources to improve safety and find ways to encourage more children, including those with disabilities, to safely walk and bicycle to school.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland said despite the safety benefits of alternative forms of transportation, many parents and young drivers elect to use private passenger vehicles for the drive to and from school.
"While such choices may often be convenient, they are not without risk," Strickland said. "Teen drivers are at an especially high risk of a crash whenever they drive. And this risk goes up as more teens pile into a vehicle."
He also noted that motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds. In 2008, more than 2,700 teenage drivers were killed and nearly 230,000 were injured, according to NHTSA statistics.
More information is available from USDOT at www.saferoutesinfo.org and www.nhtsa.gov/School-Buses.