Nearly every school day in my household since 2002 has begun with a walk to school.
It's been a wonderful privilege due to our proximity to the local elementary school in Lilburn, Ga.
The walks, often with the family pooch leading the way while on the lookout for neighborhood squirrels, is without a doubt the best way to start a day.
We walk and talk about such things as the day ahead, plans with friends after the final bell, and the crunchy sounds made by fallen acorns under foot. With our son now a junior in high school and our daughter a fifth-grader at Knight Elementary School in Lilburn, the walk-to-school days are now in their twilight.
As sad as that prospect is, there’s a bit of relief, too.
I worry about safety, as any parent does. The sidewalk we walk is less than two feet from the road pavement.
Tuesday morning's accident in Athens, during which a crossing guard was struck by a vehicle in front of an elementary school, amplifies the concern. The driver, who was on her way to work, said she didn't see the crossing guard, who suffered a broken leg.
Statistics show it can be dangerous for child pedestrians — whether walking to school or to the neighborhood pool.
In its 2012 Walking Safely report, Safe Kids Worldwide said more than 11,000 children pedestrians under 19 had been killed by a motor vehicle from 1995 to 2010. The Centers for Disease Control offers up a large quantity of information on the subject, too.
Both share tips on how kids and their parents can be safer on the walk to school — Patch has some, too — but motorists also have to do their part. Right?
A long stretch of our morning walk in Lilburn is along a busy road filled with commuters in much more of a hurry than we are. The flashing yellow lights on the School Zone sign is largely ignored. Drivers on cell phones swoosh by obviously faster than the 25 mph speed limit — and faster than the 35 mph limit during off-school hours.
Combine speeding with the distractions of getting to work on time, and, well, the result can be tragic.
What do you think can be done to make the walk to school safer? Should there be more traffic law enforcement around schools? Do parents need to be more diligent in reporting unsafe drivers?
Tell us in the comments below.