Why Parents Drive Children to School...

McDonald, N.C.,& Aalborg, A.K. (2009). Why Parents drive children to  school: Implications for safe routes to school programs. American Planning Association, 75(3),331-342. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.yorku.ca/login url=https://search.proquest.com/docview/229630410?accountid=15182


This is a peer reviewed secondary source. The researchers sought to get answers to the reasons why parents drive their children to school instead of allowing them to walk. It was found that parents drive the children to school because it was convenient and it saved time. Some parents did not want their children to walk to school unsupervised. They believe that "Safe Routes to School programs should take parental convenience and time constraints into account by providing ways children can walk to school supervised by someone other than the parent, such as by using walking school buses. To be effective, such programs need institutional support. Schools should take a multi-modal approach to pupil transportation" . This article is important to the podcast as it gives an alternative to driving children to school.




McElroy, Justin. "Kids commuting to school: What's driving the conversation?" CBC News , 7 Jan. 2018.

January 21, 2018/ Zereen Williams

This article is from a secondary source and it speaks to the reasons why parents do not allow the children to commute to school and the benefits of walking to school. Parents fear that their children will be kidnapped or hit by a car. However a parent who trained his children to commute to school was chastised by Social Services as they believed his children were too young to be unsupervised. There are concerns about the traffic congestion at schools and he believes parents and not institutions are creating the problems.  The article highlights the benefits of walking to school:

" Kids get great physical activity from the experience, and [that] has been known to be associated with lower rates of obesity,but also clearer mental cognitive capacity and resilience and better mood, so they can take these benefits into the school day with them," said Mariana Brussoni, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia.

This article speaks to the health benefits of walking to school and reveal that social services is an hindrance to allowing students to walk to school.



Westoll, Nick. " 'Freak accident' 5- year - old girl dies after being hit by an unoccupied SUV". Global News, 15 Jan.2018. 

The newspaper is a popular source for factual information.  The article reports the 'freak accident' , which forms the basis  of my podcast.

A five-year-old girl  died after  she was hit by an unoccupied Hyundai SUV near an elementary school in Toronto's north end.

Police and paramedics were called to the Ianhall Road and Victory Drive area, near Keele Street and Wilson Avenue and behind St. Raphael Catholic School, at around 3:30 p.m. Monday with reports of a collision.

Sgt. Duncan Miller told reporters Monday afternoon the girl was being put in a Mercedes-Benz by her father when the incident happened.

“The Hyundai was parked further down [Ianhall Road] and for a reason we don’t know right now, it was unoccupied and the gear engaged,” he said, adding the girl was then pinned against the Mercedes.


Farnsworth, Sue. Personal Interview. 15 October 2017

Walk to School Initiative

Eagle Plains Elementary School students demonstrated at the intersection of Okanagan and Northface Crescent. The placards read, "Walk to School no Matter the Weather".  In an interview with Sue Farnsworth,  ( a grade 6 teacher) the initiative started two years ago and the aim was to encourage students to walk to school instead of allowing parents to transport them to school. The program operated on a competitive basis and students who walk the most miles would be rewarded. The competition was extended to include other schools . After two years, Eagle Plains won the competition. 

This is important as it is sensitizing children to the importance of walking to school, by getting them involved in the process.


Raktim Mitra, and Guy Faulkner. " There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather, Just the Wrong Clothing: Climate , Weather and Active School Transportation in Toronto, Canada." Canadian Journal of Public Health, vol. 103,2012,pp.s35-s41. JSTOR, JSTOR.

This peer reviewed scholarly article reveals that children who walk or cycle for school transportation tend to be more physically active overall than those who use other travel modes...walking and cycling as a means to increase physical activity levels among children and youth, and in the longer term will  reverse the current trend of increasing obesity rates.

Study Design

The transportation behaviour of children 11-12 years in Toronto was examined. " Once the variations in household socio-economic characteristics and the travel distance are taken into account, the effect of seasonal climate and related weather conditions on active school travel, particularly walking, would be minimal.

This article reveals the negative impact of driving children to school as this can lead to obesity in children.



Bradshaw, Ruth. " School Children's Travel." Geography, vol.86,no.12001.pp.77-78. JSTOR JSTOR.

This is a peered review scholarly article that speaks to  the level of dependence on the car. Children become the focus as most of their travel is school related. It is believed that the travel habits developed by children will continue into adulthood. The researcher believes that because children are transported by their parents to school, they get less exercise; build a car dependency early; they will find it harder as adults to use cars responsibly and will have "fewer opportunities to develop a road sense."

This article is important to the podcast as it reveals what will happen when children are dependent on cars.


Aalborg, Annette, and McDonald, Noreen. "Why Parents Drive Children to School: Implications for Safe Routes to School Program." Journal of the American Planning Association, 2009, tandfonline.com/101/ripa 20. Accessed 9 Feb. 2018.

The aim of this research , (which is a scholarly article), is to ascertain ways of encouraging children to walk to school. It states that the current reliance on motorized modes has raised concerns about air quality, declining physical activity and rising obesity, congestion around schools and the developmental impacts of chauffeuring children. One policy response to these facts has been the creation of Safe Routes to School programs across the country (USA). The current federal transportation bill included $612 million to "enable and encourage children...to walk and bicycle to school" by making "bicycling and walking...a safer and more appealing transportation alternative "

This article reveals that another jurisdiction is grappling with the same issue and they too have the same concerns.


Metcalf, Brad et al. "Physical activity cost of the school run: impact on schoolchildren of being driven to school [EarlyBird]".  PrimaryCare, vol. 329, 9 Oct. 2004, pp. 832-833.

This report is a from a scholarly journal. It states that although children who walk to and from school record more activity in the process, the difference has no impact on total weekly activity. Those driven by car matched those who walked to school in overall activity levels. These results apply to 5 year olds, but the Early- Bird study is longitudinal and ideally designed to compare findings once the children move from primary school to secondary school.

Whether children walk to and from primary school makes no difference to their total activity. This does not justify the adverse publicity given to the school run nor the government's perception of the school runs impact. There may be other benefits from walking children to their neighbourhood school, but physical activity does not appear to be one of them. 


Caroline Fusco, et al . "Urban School Travel: Exploring Children's Qualitative Narratives about Their Trip to School." Children Youth and Environments, vol.23,no.3,2013,pp.1-23 JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.7721/chilyoutenvi.23.3.0001

This peer reviewed scholarly article seeks to get a feed back from students at the intermediate level, who walk to school and those that are driven to school. Both set of students agree that it is healthier to walk to school. They get to experience more in the environment when they walk. However , the ones who are driven to school are  more fearful than those who walk to school. However their fear is as a result of what their parents tell them and what they see on television. The students who walk say that there is safety in numbers.

This is important to my podcast as the aim is to find the best solution for the children , therefore their views must be taken into account.


Government of Canada: Transport Canada. https:/www.tc.gc.ca. Retrieved February 17,2016.

This is Government Statistics which highlights the number of fatalities by road users in 2015.

ROAD USERS CLASS          2011          2015

Drivers                                    1,023          925

Pedestrians                            321             283

It can be noted that more persons die as a result of driving , that the persons who walk.

Percentage of Fatalities and serious injuries by Road User class 2015


Drivers                                         49.8                             46.4

Passengers                                 19.4                              20.2

Pedestrians                                15.2                               14.3

Bicyclists                                    2.5                                 4.7

Not stated/other                     2.3                                  2.3

The statistics reveal that more drivers die or are seriously injured than any other road user.


Iancovich,Valerie. "Why Walking to School is Better for Your Kids." UofT News, 11 Sept. 2015.

This article is from a popular source. The University of Toronto researcher highlights the importance of fresh air , exercise and a lower risk of accident or injury to children who walk to school. The study reveals that about five percent of children and youth in Canada between 5-19 years old reach the daily minimum of 12,000 steps per day. Children who walk a minimum of 20 mins per day can help stave off depression. This is relevant to my research in that it highlights some of the myths and fears that parents speak about. The fears include accidents , traffic and strangers. The study says children who walk have higher level of academic performance.

Martinko, Katherine. "Please walk your kid to school instead of driving." Living Health, 14 March 2017.  

This article is from a popular source. This article is important to my research as it speaks to traffic pollution and the permanent damage it does to children's health. Parents think they are making the morning go smoother, delivering the children on time, sheltering them from the weather but in fact they are poisoning them with fossil fuel. The researcher says children with disability, those coming from a morning appointment and those who fall outside the school zone need to be driven to school but the others should be allowed to walk to school.

Neuwelt, Pat, and Kearns, Robin. "Health Benefits of Walking School Buses in Auckland, New Zealand: Perceptions of Children and Adults. Children, Youth and Walking School Bus (WSB) Environments, vol.16,no.1,2006,pp.104-120. JSTOR JSTOR.

This is a scholarly article and it is important to the research process as it highlights community involvement. The "walking school bus" (WSB) is where at least two parents act as monitors for the children. One parent walks at the head of the line and the other is the last person in the line. The study has positive impact in that parents feel comfortable that their children are being supervised on the walk to school, many parents and children form friendships, the children are allowed to visit their neighbors' home, parents act as caregivers in case of emergencies outside of school hours. Children interact with children of different abilities and ages. Most importantly children learn to cross the road properly as they get a better sense of how to use the road. It has helped to create a sense of community as each person cares about the welfare of all the children.

Klassen,Terry P. et al. "Community Based Injury Prevention Intervention." The Future of Children,vol.10.no.1,2000,pp. 83-110. JSTOR JSTOR

This is a scholarly article and it is important to my research process as it speaks about community based intervention and it gives a theoretical perspective on how learning takes place. The norms of the community has to change to prevent injury to children. The community based intervention would employ strategies such as education/behavior change, engineering technology,  legislation/enforcement. The strategies are effective especially when it is integrated into the community and when approaches are tailored to address unique community characteristics such as ethnicity or socio-economic status. The health behavioral frameworks used in community based interventions are Health Belief Model, Social Learning Theory and Precede Model. The children's traffic behavior was measured in a simulated environment. It was concluded that "Developmentally , preschool-age children are not prepared to learn and react appropriately to traffic, therefore physically separating young children from traffic may be a more effective approach."