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State Safety Office / Programs / Safe Routes to Schools
Walking and bicycling are common ways for children to travel, including to and from school. Walking and biking are also effective ways to reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity, and other health issues. Since children are not born with the knowledge and skills needed to interact with traffic while walking and biking, it is essential to teach them the rules of the road, how to navigate streets and intersections, and how to be safer while walking and biking. Training children how to be more competent and safer pedestrians and bicyclists gives them lifelong skills that allow them to make safer and healthy transportation choices, but also lays the foundation for traffic safety skills they’ll use throughout their lives. While teaching safe walking and biking habits should start at home, schools and other educational centers have an undeniable opportunity to reach all demographics of children with this valuable safety education.
The Florida Traffic and Bicycle Safety Education Program (FTBSEP) has developed pedestrian and bicycle safety education lessons and curricula over the last 25 years, as well as training teachers and others how to effectively use it to teach children. Over the next year, the FTBSEP and Florida SRTS will work on developing new lessons and curricula that can teach children in grades K-12. Safety topics, skills, and teaching methods will be age and developmentally appropriate. Additionally, teachers will be given lead-up skills and supplemental materials to ensure children master the skills. For example, videos have been developed that teach each skill (e.g., crossing the road at an intersection) so children can see safe behaviors before performing the skills themselves. Additionally, lessons are developed in a way that children see the skills, then perform a lead-up skills, and finally, progress to the actual behavior. Experience has shown that getting children up and out outside, walking and biking, helps reinforce the safety skills being taught.
Elementary School lessons focus on pedestrian, bicycle, and school bus safety skills. In the new curricula, grades K-5 will receive pedestrian and school bus education, while grades 3-5 will receive bicycle education (though lessons could be adapted for younger children if desired).
Middle School-aged children are taught pedestrian and bicycle safety with an important focus on distractions while walking and biking. Since middle school-aged children may have more independence, the lessons will focus not only on safety and healthy transportation, but also the fact that a bicycle is their first vehicle. Lessons progress more than elementary in using a bicycle for transportation and how to interact in traffic as a vehicle.
High School students will be taught how to walk and bicycle safely, with skills similar to those taught in middle school. However, the addition of a driver’s education unit that focuses on sharing the road more responsibly with pedestrians and bicyclists will be added.
*All safety lessons being developed will have a counterpart in an Adapted pedestrian and bicycle safety guide. This can be used for students with various disabilities.
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Florida Department of Transportation