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Advantages and Disadvantages of different forms of school transport

Ventajas y desventajas de las diferentes formas de transporte escolar

02/09/2021

Don't know which means of transport to choose for your children to go to school? Car, school bus, public transport, bicycle, on foot...  We look at each option and give you some information to help you make this important decision.  

-The school bus: 

This is considered one of the safest and most commonly used means of transport for children in Spain. 

It is important that the bus itself is no more than 16 years old and, of course, that it is fitted with seat belts for added safety. Ideally, the bus should allow the installation of child restraint systems. In this image we show you how young children should travel on school buses. 

In this regard, it should be noted that a monitor must be present when 50% of the children being transported are under the age of 12. The person accompanying the children must be the first to get out of the vehicle, to check the access safety. This last fact is crucial and further underlines the importance of the monitor, as most accidents (90%) take place while children are getting on/off the bus. This monitor ensures that all children behave appropriately on the bus: that they are seated and wearing their seatbelts, that they get on and off in an orderly manner, that objects are placed in the right place, and so on. We are talking about qualified professionals who are prepared to carry out this work.

-Private car:

We remind you that children under 135 cm tall must be restrained using a child restraint system approved according to their height and age. Although it is actually ideal for them to do so until they reach 150 cm, at which point the seat belt can be correctly positioned. 

Planning is key. We must take into account the traffic, the time we spend correctly positioning the child in the child restraint system, possible unforeseen circumstances, parking problems at the school (it is important that the child leaves from the pavement side), and so on.

One point in favour of private vehicles is the interpersonal distance that this means of transport guarantees. A factor that must be taken into account in the current pandemic situation. 

-On foot: 

Undoubtedly the healthiest option. A very important factor to take into account when choosing this option is to determine whether the child will be walking with or without a companion. In this sense, it is important that the child only walks to school if they are prepared for this and have the necessary autonomy to do so in complete safety. Today, the so-called 'safe school route' has been introduced to help make this journey safer. The European STARS project, included in the Intelligent Energy Europe Programme, is also worth mentioning. Its main aim is to encourage and reward schools that promote sustainable and safe travel among their pupils, whether on foot or by bicycle.

Pedestrians are one of the most vulnerable road users and it is therefore important that they comply with the regulations at all times:

- Always cross the road on pedestrian crossings, looking carefully both ways first.

- Never run, skip or play when crossing as you run the risk of falling over in the middle of the road.

- If children are very young, they must hold the hand of an adult at all times.

- Never cross between parked vehicles on the street. They have limited visibility.

- On the pavement, always walk on the side away from the road and pay close attention when passing garages.

- If you have to walk along the edge of the road, always walk on the left-hand side so you are facing oncoming vehicles.

In this article we offer guidelines so that a child can move safely around town

-By bicycle:

A sustainable and healthy means of transport. Nowadays, many schools encourage this means of transport, and it is a deeply-rooted tradition among our European neighbours, for example in Germany

It is important that children are properly equipped: with safety harnesses, protectors, reflective elements and appropriate clothing in bright colours. 

In addition, children must have the necessary autonomy to use their bicycles responsibly and always comply with the regulations. 

Here are some tips for safe cycling. It is a healthy means of transport. However, it is only recommended for older children, in cities with traffic calming and preferably with specific routes. It should be borne in mind that bicycles share the road with other road users, including cars, lorries and buses, with the bicycle user being the most vulnerable. 

-Public transport:

By subway, city or intercity bus... public transport is a good choice for getting to school. Quick, direct, accessible... It is advisable to plan the journey and assess the time it takes to make the trip, whether it is rush hour or not, how close it is, whether it is possible to install a child seat in the case of the bus... 

With all this in mind, it should be noted that all forms of transport are safe as long as they are used carefully and in compliance with the regulations implicit in each one. 

Finally, Fundación MAPFRE, in collaboration with the Spanish Road Association, has drawn up a Manual for Road Safety Inspections in School Environments. To develop this, inspections and audits have been carried out in schools in different Spanish municipalities. We recommend that you read it. We think you may find it useful.

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