PARENTS admit they could easily walk their children to school – but safety fears and time constraints force half to drive a car instead.
A survey also found that more than one-in-ten drive youngsters to school because the local public transport is inadequate.
The study was commissioned by British Lung Foundation to mark World Car Free Day on Sunday September 22.
Dr Alison Cook, director of external affairs for the charity, said: “Our research shows the people living in the country’s most polluted towns and cities need their leaders to act on toxic air and remove the barriers to people leaving the car behind.
“Air pollution from traffic is a pressing threat to everyone’s health.
“Children are among those most at risk as their little lungs are still growing, and toxic air can stunt this growth.
“People living with a lung disease such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can also find their symptoms are made worse by air pollution, and it can even leave them needing emergency care.”
The study of 2,000 parents also found:
- The average parent lives just two miles from their child’s school, and the drive there takes 13 minutes, compared to 23 minutes by foot
- 28 per cent believe they could also walk their work commute
- More than one-in-ten drive to school as the local public transport isn’t up to the task
- Three-in-ten parents who drive children to school head directly to work after dropping them off
- A fifth said a lack of time in their family’s morning routine stops them from walking the short distance to school
- One-in-ten worry about the pollution their kids would inhale if they were to walk
Interestingly, in another survey, one-in-ten parents quizzed by OnePoll said they would be more likely to walk, scoot or cycle to school if roads in their area were safer to cross.
More than half of parents admitted they take the car for short journeys simply out of habit.
Dr Cook added: “Drivers and their passengers are often exposed to higher levels of dirty air inside a car than when walking along the same road.
“So there are many health benefits to leaving the car behind, especially for shorter journeys.
“Our survey found on average people were only managing 7,500 steps a day – well short of the recommended 10,000.
“The aim of World Car Free Day is to encourage motorists to ditch the car for a day.”
She added that road transport “remains the largest source of toxic air in the UK so reducing car travel is a major part of the solution.
“To make this happen we need our politicians to set ambitious new legal targets to reach safer levels of pollution by 2030 as well as far more investment in cleaner transport options.
“The Clean Air Parents’ Network, which has groups in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and London, provides a way for parents looking to protect their children’s health to campaign for action from our political leaders.
“Air pollution might be invisible, but the damage it causes is very real.”
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