Safe Routes to School Statistics

Safe Routes to School is up for discussion in both the U.S. House and Senate federal highway transportation bills (TEA-21 renewal). The following was prepared for the U.S. Senate debate on Safe Routes to Schools.

The BikeLeague has statistics on children and the obesity epidemic in its SRTS case statement. [pdf]

Statistics to support Safe Routes to School
  • A California survey found that physically-fit students achieved more academically, scoring higher on standardized tests.

  • A National Safe Kids Campaign survey found that nearly sixty percent of parents and children encounter at least one serious hazard along their route to school.

  • A Centers for Disease Control survey found that forty percent of parents cited traffic as a major barrier to allowing children to walk to school.

  • Per mile traveled, traveling to school in a car driven by a teen is most hazardous, followed by bicycling (about 10 deaths per 100 million trips), then walking (about 5 deaths per 100 million trips).

  • Each year, about 800 school-age children die in traffic during normal school travel hours, and about 152,000 are injured.

  • About 22 percent of children killed in traffic during school travel hours die while walking or bicycling.
Above are from The Relative Risks of School Travel, TRB Special Report 269 [pdf]

School Transportation Statistics:
  • Since 1970, the portion of public school children transported by bus has increased from 43% to 57%.

  • Per-pupil busing costs have grown from $394 in 1990-91 to $521 in 1999-2000.

  • In 1999-2000, $13 million was spent on busing children to public schools, at an average cost of $521 per student.
Above are from School Bus Stats from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Hazard busing:

Many school districts bus some children who live very close to school, because the route to school is considered too dangerous for walking or bicycling. While no national statistics exist on what is called “hazard busing” or “safety busing,” some states do track this information:
  • In Illinois, about 153,800 students, (15 percent of all those who ride a bus) do so because it is considered too dangerous to walk the less than 1.5 miles to school.

  • In Chester County, near Philadelphia, two students who attend Uwchlan Hills Elementary School are an extreme example of hazard busing: they ride the bus to cross a busy street: roughly 90 yards. The street has no crosswalk.

Success of SRTS programs:
  • The Marin County, California comprehensive SRTS program reports a 64 percent increase in the number of students walking to school, a 114% increase in the number of children bicycling, and a 39% decrease in the number of children arriving by private car carrying only one student.