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Despite the widely acknowledged health benefits of active transport (e.g. walking/cycling), many parents drive their children to/from school and to other local destinations. We aimed to explore the prevalence, reported reasons and socio-demographic correlates of these behaviours. Using surveys of 430 primary and 258 secondary schoolchildren and their parents, we examined whether parents drove their child home from school and to local destinations within walking distance. We found a third of the sample, in particular around half of all primary schoolchildren, were driven home from school. Most children usually had parental accompaniment on local trips and were almost always driven. Using regression analyses we examined which of the following were associated with these behaviours: distance (to school); social trust; concern about injury while crossing a road; urban/rural location; attending primary/secondary school; sex, age of child; at least one parent not being employed full-time; household car access. In the analysis social trust and concern about injury were prominent explanatory variables. The results suggest public policy interventions that aim to improve road safety, increase community connectedness and build social trust may be important to encourage active transport for children.


Institute for Health and Ageing

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Journal Article

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