It’s walk to school week here in the UK. Get Outside Champion Glyn Dodwell shares some startling facts on the costs of driving your kids to school.
We are continually being bombarded with reports issued by Public Health England, or other similar organisations regarding the decreasing state of the nation’s health. One of the most significant concerns is about obesity levels in children and the state of their mental health.
A major contributory factor to this is the proportion of children being driven to school every day. The hard facts make unpleasant reading but do put the problem into perspective.
• Half our kids are driven to school by parents – often less than ½ mile (PHE).
• That means that about 8.3 million school children are involved in the school run every day.
• Parents in the UK drive an average of 600 miles a year for the school run, costing over £300 a year in fuel and wear and tear on the car.
• During the rush hour, 1 in 5 vehicles are being used for the school run.
For whatever reason, we have got into the habit of driving our kids to school, even if it is only half a mile away. Its crazy – I witnessed someone leave their house and drive about 400m to the school where, due to parking restrictions and congestion, they had to drive a little further to park. Before walking about 400m back to the school with their child!
In the UK, between 1991 and 2002, the proportion of primary school children walking to school declined from 60% to 51%, with a corresponding increase in those being taken by car from 29% to 41% (Department for Transport).
This comes at a high cost because over one in five boys (21.8%) and above one in four girls (27.5%) were either overweight or obese. Yet changing the way we travel to school can improve their overall fitness and health.
So what’s the answer? – It’s simple!
Leave the car at home and walk the kids to the school. You may even find that it is quicker due to no parking issues.
Children who walk to school regularly are less at risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis when they are older. But 4 out of every 10 boys and 6 out of every 10 girls are active for less than one hour a day.
I know many parents are fearful of allowing their children out alone due to a risk of assault and abduction. Yet the chances of being fatally knocked down by a car, on the way to school, are 40 times greater than being abducted.
In one positive action you, as a parent, could improve your child’s health, improve your child’s learning ability, reduce pollution, enhance safety around our schools, and save yourself hundreds of pounds a year (even if you don’t need too).
Remember #CanTheCar – #WalkToSchool
You can find out more information on the CanTheCar Website.