Remember "30 Below Stroll" and Walk Safely on International Walk to School Day

When I was a teenager, my friend's dad said I have a “30 below stroll,” because he said I was too cool to be in a hurry. I’m not sure about the “cool” part but it’s true that for most of my life, I walked slow and easy. And it worked for me.

But that all changed when I moved to the nation’s capital to work at Safe Kids.

The sheer number of people on the sidewalk in D.C. and how fast everything moved was a shock to the system. Everyone was in a hurry storming along sidewalks with purpose and a splash of elegance. I knew that if I did not get with the program, I would be swept away by the never-ending wave of people. It seemed I had outgrown the “30 below stroll.”

The problem is that people in a hurry often neglect safety and the unsafe behavior by adults is trickling down to kids. Jaywalking, distracted walking, ignoring crossing signs and even just standing in the intersection. I was shocked to learn that teenagers are now at greatest risk of being injured or even killed as pedestrians. Teens have a death rate twice that of younger children and account for half of all child pedestrian deaths.

International Walk to School Day takes place during this week, and there is no better time to demonstrate safe walking behaviors. A great way to teach children is to lead by example, so here are some tips you and your children can use to walk safely:  

  1. Teach kids at an early age to look left, right and left again before crossing the street.
  2. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks.
  3. Teach kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
  4. If kids are walking when it’s dark out, teach them to be especially alert and make sure they are visible to drivers.
  5. Be a good role model. Set a good example by putting your phone, headphones and devices down when walking around cars.

Now after almost six months of working and walking in D.C., I know I can speed walk with the best of them. But I’ve realized that getting there safely is more important than getting there quickly, so I try to remember to slow it down, take it easy and walk safely. After all, you’re never too old for the “30 below stroll.”