1st graders: Drive to school
That’s how dangerous the parents’ taxi is
The road to school is dangerous, especially for inexperienced first graders. As a result, many parents drive their children to school by car, making the situation even worse.
Now school starts again. It has already started in some cantons and the others will follow in the next three weeks. Many children are now making their first independent experiences in road traffic on the way to school. Not without danger, especially for first graders who, in addition to learning the ABCs and times tables, still need to learn how to properly assess and avoid road hazards.
Many parents therefore want to play it safe. Instead of practicing in advance how to get to school with their children, they prefer to drive their offspring to school in the so-called parent taxi – even if it is only a few hundred meters away. The numbers seem to prove them right: around 40 percent of all serious accidents involving children happen on the way to school. Statistics from the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) show around two accidents on the way to school per year. school day in 2021. Last year there were 532 accidents, of which 452 resulted in injuries.
More dangers at school
According to a 2019 TCS survey, 30 percent of schoolchildren in western Switzerland are regularly driven to school by their parents; in German-speaking Switzerland at least seven per cent. It is also practical: Anyone who drives to work anyway takes the short detour to school and delivers the offspring. Many risks on the way to school arise only from the parents’ taxis:
- Leave stressed: Pack your school bag, tie your shoelaces – children need their time before they can start. If mom or dad is still pushing because they should also be at work on time, the day starts with stress.
- Not concentrating at the wheel: If you add time pressure, thoughts about the working day and a lot of traffic, the risk of an accident increases.
- Block stop: Is there no parking at the school? Then stop briefly at the bus stop and hand over the offspring. If the school bus approaches from behind, it becomes stressful.
- Stopping in the no-stop zone: Where there is still space, you can also park for a short time – whether in front of exits or in the middle of the pavement.
- Parking in the second row: If there is no other option, you simply stay on the road to deliver the offspring. Other children now have difficulty crossing the street because their field of vision is blocked. It is also harder for children to recognize other drivers. And they are stuck behind the stopped car.
- Keep on the wrong side: To avoid a detour, some drop off their children on the opposite side of the street – the children come out onto the street, cannot calmly control the traffic before crossing or run straight to the other side of the street without looking.
- Wild U-turns: The kids came out – but now hurry to work. So we turn around in front of the school as soon as possible. Often without paying attention to the car’s surroundings – children could be out and about after all.
Make your own experiences in traffic
Parents as taxi drivers do not only put school children at risk due to stress, lack of concentration and the increased traffic in front of schools. According to TCS, they also deprive the children of the opportunity to learn to behave properly in traffic on a daily basis. And thus to be safe and independent on the road. Also: According to a Swedish study, driving to school makes children lethargic and unmotivated – while walking to school activates the children.
The municipalities have long since taken the initiative or – as in Aargau – totally banned parents’ taxis in order to reduce the number of potential dangers on the way to school. TCS or the Swiss Traffic Club (VCS) also points to the risks of vehicular noise in front of schools.
Here’s how your children can get to school safely without their parents’ taxi:
- Determine the route to school with them and explain to them why this route is the safest. Schools often have elaborate school route maps with the safest routes from residential areas in the catchment area.
- Practice the route to school with your children in advance.
- Only follow them as long as necessary – only alone do children actually become independent in traffic.
- Although there is always a residual risk in road traffic – trust that your children will master it with good preparation.
- Get together with other parents for the so-called pedibus: Several children go the same way to school as a group, initially accompanied by an adult. Many eyes see more and a group is also seen better.
But in the countryside and without a school bus, sometimes there is no other option: if you take your children to school by car, stop in a safe place near the school and let them walk the rest of the way. It reduces the traffic risks in front of the school and gives them the opportunity to make their own experiences in traffic.