Children are spending much longer in cars than their parents’ generation did, as concerns over safety on the roads prevent parents from letting them make their own way to school.
Research from transport charity Sustrans, which analysed government data, has discovered that primary school children now spend an average of 26 hours a year being driven to school – a substantial leap from the 18 hours a year figure from 1995.
The proportion of pupils being ferried to school by car has also increased from 40 per cent in 1995 to 46 per cent now. This is despite the fact that the average primary school commute is just 1.6 miles, which would take a child around 25 minutes by walking or 15 minutes by bike.
Malcolm Shepherd, chief executive at Sustrans, called for dedicated funding to make active modes of transport more appealing to families. He said: “While it is not possible for everyone to walk or cycle to school, many families would prefer to not take the car but feel threatened by speeding traffic and dangerous roads.”
It's wrong that so many children are being denied a safe and healthy journey to school, especially when physical inactivity is placing such a burden on our health system.
"It's wrong that so many children are being denied a safe and healthy journey to school, especially when physical inactivity is placing such a burden on our health system. We urgently need the government to make dedicated funding available, commit to lower traffic speeds, and transform local walking and cycling routes."
The AA however has warned that parents need to be particularly vigilant as children go back to school. The latest available injury data, from 2012, shows that more children were involved in accidents on the road in September than at any other time of year, with cycling posing a particularly high risk.
Children starting their first year at secondary schools are the most at risk, with 65 per cent more 11 year old pedestrians being injured than 10 year olds for the last three years.
President of the AA, Edmund King said: "A combination of being unfamiliar with their route, plus the pressures of starting a new school and a desire for greater independence as they head towards their teenage years, can make children even more vulnerable as cyclists and pedestrians at this time of year."
Picture: Monkey Business