HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- PennDOT today announced that schools and communities across Pennsylvania will highlight walking and bicycle safety by participating in Walk or Roll to School Day on Wednesday, Oct. 9.
"Walking or riding to school may be a fun activity for students, but keeping them safe while they do so is very important," PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. "That's why we partner with schools and communities all year to educate children, caregivers and the public alike about using our roadways safely."
As part of the celebration, schools will take part in group walks with school and community officials, crossing guards and police. They will also hold educational events highlighting safety and the benefits of walking or riding to school.
Pennsylvania's event is part of the country's 17th annual observance of International Walk to School Day. October is recognized as International Walk to School Month.
To exercise safety year-round, caregivers should remind students to walk on the sidewalk, or if there is no sidewalk, to walk on the side of the road facing traffic. Students should only cross streets at corners or marked crosswalks and look left, right and then left again before stepping into the street. Also, children should always wear bright-colored clothes and carry flashlights if it is dark or hard to see.
Bicyclists should also ride along the right side of the road with traffic and signal their intentions in advance. Bicycle riders must obey all traffic signs and signals, and riders should look left, right and then left again before entering an intersection. Children under the age of 12 are required by law to wear a properly fitting helmet.
Students are also advised to be alert at all times and avoid distractions such as cell phones or headphones.
Groups of adults and children can make walking or bicycling to school safer by establishing a "Walking School Bus" or "Bicycle Train" to help reinforce safety in numbers. A structured route can be planned with meeting points, a timetable, and one or more adult "drivers," escorting a group of children to school.
Information on developing these groups can be found at PennDOT's Safe Routes to School (SRTS) website at www.SafeRoutesPA.org.
PennDOT uses the federal SRTS program to help schools and communities improve safety and promote walking and bicycling. Over the past five years, 65 schools have received more than $350,000 for educational activities and aids such as walking programs, classroom curriculum materials, crossing guard supplies or training, and assemblies focused on bicycle safety.
In addition, PennDOT has awarded more than $18 million in federal funds to schools and municipalities for 34 infrastructure projects near elementary and middle schools. Project examples include sidewalk and curb improvements, updated signage or signals, and crosswalk or bike rack installations.
To see a list of schools participating in this year's event, visit www.walkbiketoschool.org/go/whos-walking/2013/PA.
For pedestrian- and bicycle-safety videos and information, visit the "Bicycle/Pedestrian Safety" information center at www.JustDrivePA.com or watch the videos on the PennDOT YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/pennsylvaniaDOT.
Media contact: Ashley Schoch, 717-783-8800
SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Transportation