Aktuelle Fakten zum Schulweg von Kindern

May 2019

The Human Factor

In November 2018, the forsa Institute conducted a representative survey in Germany on how children get to school on behalf of DEKRA. The survey followed a systematic, randomized procedure and was participated in by 1,020 parents of children between the ages of six and sixteen who were required by law to attend school, as well as 1,009 persons with no children of mandatory school age. The aim of this panel selection was to clarify whether the attitudes of parents whose children have to get to and from school every day differ from those of the rest of the population.

In total, 48 percent of the parents of children between six and sixteen declared that their child got to school by bus or public transport. As a rule, one in three children (32 percent) walks to school, or back home from school, while 25 percent travel by bike. Only 23 percent of the parents included in the survey had children who were regularly taken to or collected from school by car.

Girls used public transport more often than boys, who tended to walk to school more often. Likewise, older children between the ages of twelve and sixteen took public transport to school more often than younger children. Children between the ages of six and eight were dropped off or collected by car more oftn than older children, or alternatively walked the route – probably because the distance from a child's home to their elementary school tends to be short. In cases where this does not apply, parents tend to drive their smaller children to school. The nine to fourteen age group were the most common users of bicycles for traveling too and from school.

Participants living in smaller towns and villages with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants recorded far higher than average figures for their children traveling to school by bus or another means of public transport. A constant proportion of 21 to 24 percent of parents in settlements of all sizes used their own car to drive their children to and from school – a surprising figure in that this mode of transport does not seem to be affected by whether the child lives in a rural or urban area.

Those surveyed were also asked what they worried about most when thinking about how their children got to school. More than one in two of the parents surveyed (57 percent) expressed concern that their child could be involved in a traffic accident and injured through the fault of others. 46 percent feared that their children would be harassed or threatened by strangers, while one in five (20 percent) were worried that their child would be picked on or bullied by their peers. 19 percent were worried that their children would not be careful enough and would cross the road on a red light, for example. Parents under the age of 40 were far more likely than average to worry that their child could be involved in a traffic accident and injured through the fault of others (70 percent) or be threatened or harassed by strangers (59 percent). The most laid back parents from this point of view were those aged 50 or over.

Parental motives in choosing how their children get to school

43 percent of those surveyed who drove their children to school did so because the school was on their own way to work. 29 percent said that it would take their children too long to get to school otherwise, while 25 percent said that there were no good public transport connections for the route. Around one in five of those in this subgroup said that their children's route to school was too dangerous or too far for them to walk or cycle.

14 percent of the subgroup said that they drove their children to school or picked them up because they were in a car pool with other children, and ten percent said that it gave them or their partner more time with their children. Seven percent believed that driving their children to and from school worked out cheaper than a public transport ticket.

Men (24 percent) were more likely than women (13 percent) to say that they drove their child to school because the route was too dangerous for them to walk or cycle, and far more men (15 percent) than women (5 percent) said that doing so gave them or their partners more time with their children.

Those who did not drive their children to or from school were also asked to give reasons for their choice. Two thirds (67 percent) said that they wanted their children to learn to navigate roads and behave safely – a factor that was particularly important to parents under the age of 40.

39 percent didn't drive their children to and from school because they had a good connection to the public transport network. This attitude was particularly prevalent among parents over the age of 50, who may have different standards compared to “back in the day” than their younger counterparts. 34 percent were in favor of their children not being driven to school because they would be accompanied by other children. When asked about the environmental concerns of this issue, 26 percent of those surveyed said that driving their cars to the school would disturb local residents and damage the environment, and the same number expressed concern that doing so would endanger other schoolchildren.

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