How to keep your children safe commuting to school

10 months ago
This article was written by a member of the SheKnows Community. It has not been edited, vetted or reviewed by our editorial staff, and any opinions expressed herein are the writer’s own.

For so many of us, family is everything. And when it comes to our children, it goes without saying – we would do anything to protect them.


Here’s the rundown on how Australian parents are feeling about the issue, and some simple tips you can teach them to keep safe.  


The state of safety for Australian families


In a recent survey, 25% of Australian parents spend an hour or more worrying about their family each day. But this is natural, particularly when it comes to safely getting children to school. In fact Australian parents seem to be divided on how they allow their children to commute to and from school:


  • 32% of respondents say they would allow their child/children to walk or catch public transport to school alone when they reach the age of 13 to 14. 20.7% say they would give permission at an earlier age of 11 to 12.

  • 18.1% of Australian parents say they would allow their child/children to walk or catch public transport to school alone between the ages of 5 and 10. 23.0% say they would only give permission at the age of 15 or above.


The role of the Police Transport Command


Safety isn’t just a concern for parents. The NSW Police Force is also on board, having taken over the policing of the state’s public transport network in 2012. This meant the Police Transport Command (PTC) was established with hundreds of officers allocated to patrol trains, buses and ferries.


So what is their role? The PTC is a mobile police station while travelling on public transport. It is their job to provide a safe and secure environment for anyone (children included) travelling on public transport. To break it down, here is where they patrol:


  • Rail: Trains, Rail stations, Bus and Rail interchanges, Rail lines and sidings, Mono/light rail.

  • Bus: Interchanges, bus stops, bus patrols and routes.

  • Ferry: Wharves, ferry patrols.

  • Taxi: Taxi ranks, pick up points, taxi inspections.



Safe public transport tips for children


While the NSW Police Force do their best to protect your children, it’s important to teach them how to safely travel on public transport. Here are some easy tips:


  • When travelling on a tram, train or bus, check the timetable in advance

  • While waiting, stand where you can be seen

  • Put schoolbags under the seat or in your lap

  • Respect the driver and follow their directions

  • Stay in your seat or hold onto handrails if you’re standing

  • Don’t put anything or any part of your body out the window

  • If you’re ever feeling unsafe, tell the driver straight away – or use your mobile to call for help  

  • Always treat other passengers with respect

  • After getting off a bus, wait until it has driven away, watch until there is no traffic or the traffic has stopped, then walk across the road, turning your head both ways to look and listen for traffic

  • Travel with a friend if possible


Safety tips for children walking to school


Walking to school is a great way to reinforce road safety awareness in your child. Here’s what you can do to help your child develop good habits:


  • Always hold your child’s hand – both crossing the road and walking to school

  • Take extra care when there is a lot of traffic, narrow or crowded footpaths, and things like parked cars or trucks, as well as anything that blocks your view of the road

  • Always cross at pedestrian crossings or corners – wait for the traffic or pedestrian lights, cross the road when it’s safe

  • Take time to explain what you’re doing, whether you’re walking or crossing roads, so your child can understand and learn to be safe

  • Teach them early on about the Stop, Look, Listen, Think rule


Leading by example is really important – especially for primary schoolers. Once your children are old enough to walk to school alone and cross the road, they will have the knowledge to do it safely.


Safety tips for children catching the train to school


Trains are an easy and convenient way for your children to travel to school, particularly in the city. However, it’s important to teach them simple safety tips at different stages in their life.


For preschool students


  • Stay behind the yellow line

  • Mind the gap

  • Hold an adult’s hand that your trust


For primary school students


  • Beware of stranger danger

  • Know who to ask for help

  • Always walk on the platform

  • If you see something, say something

  • Don’t block aisles or doors


For secondary school students


  • Use your brains – tracks are for trains

  • Always hold your bag, bike or scooter

  • Always walk on the platform and use a footbridge

  • Always be considerate of others

  • Know who to call or ask for help


No matter how your children are getting to school, staying safe is a priority. There are so many risks and dangers to consider, but that’s where education comes in. So just make sure you always lead by example, do your research, and reinforce safety tips whenever possible.

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