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Drivers cautioned as elementary school kids take part in Walk to School

TAMPA — The last few kids straggled into Sulphur Springs Elementary on Wednesday morning when a car zipped through a crosswalk with the guard standing in the middle.

She waved her stop sign and blew her whistle.

"They didn't even want to wait for her," said Tomeka Steadman, who had just dropped her 7-year-old son off for school. "That's every day, just about."

She said she worries about dangerous drivers while she makes the roughly 10-block trek to her son's school.

On Wednesday morning, Steadman and about 150 kids and parents participated in the annual Walk to School event, which promotes pedestrian safety, health and community involvement.

Tampa Bay area schools participated in similar walks as part of a national event.

Extra crossing guards and deputies were at intersections around elementary schools to help direct students.

Tampa Bay has some of the highest rates of pedestrian and bicycle crashes in the country, said Bevin Maynard, Safe Kids Tampa coordinator at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital.

Hillsborough County leads the region and is consistently ranked in the top five nationwide for pedestrians and bicyclists killed or injured in crashes. But few crashes happen as kids are walking or biking to school, Maynard noted.

Wednesday morning's walk stressed safe habits like walking in crosswalks.

"They're going to be our future bikers and walkers, so we are trying to teach them much earlier," she said.

On Monday morning, Maynard walked with students and parents near Sulphur Springs Elementary, handing out bags with reflective tape. She emphasized parent involvement, saying the walk to and from school is healthy and a good opportunity to talk to your child.

"That's when I talk to my daughter about her day," she said.

Elizabeth Thompson, 51, walks her kids, 9 and 6, to school every day. Safety is key.

"I want them to pay attention and follow the crossing guard's rules," she said.

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Drivers cautioned as elementary school kids take part in Walk to School 10/06/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 6, 2010 11:52am]
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