Parents across the country are worryingly unaware of how the school run can threaten their children’s safety, according to the latest research from leading home-to-school travel provider Kura.

The research, which surveyed 1,000 parents across the UK, found that more than half (52%) of parents are unaware that the toxic fumes created by school run traffic were detrimental to their children’s health. Concerningly, this figure also increases to 57% of parents living in cities and built-up urban areas, where air pollution is a recurrent problem. 

Air pollution is linked to as many as 40,000 premature deaths a year, and recent findings from Unicef revealed that children are more at risk of breathing in toxic air pollution during school hours than at any other time of the day, with nearly two thirds of the air pollution they take in daily coming from this period. Indeed, the same research found that millions of children are breathing in deadly levels of particulates that breach World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines – known as PM 2.5 - every day.

This lack of awareness around the problem is perhaps surprising, given that 52% of parents surveyed reported a keen interest in environmental issues, with 42% claiming to be more interested in “green” topics than their children. Furthermore, more than half of parents (53%) report that they would like their children’s school to be as environmentally friendly as possible. 

Parental awareness was only slightly higher around the dangers posed by cars entering and exiting school premises before and after school, with just over half of parents (52%) citing traffic around schools as a risk to their child’s safety. A further 47% also went on to report there being “too much” traffic around school entrances and exits, which can lead to vehicle collisions, or the potential for the 38% of pupils who walk to school each day to be struck by a passing car.

The research, which surveyed parents of school-age children attending state schools, independent schools and academies across the UK, was conducted as part of Kura’s Green School Guide – a new resource created to support parents and schools looking to create a safer, greener school run.

Mathew Hassell, founder and CEO of Kura, said: “Children are more at risk from deadly air pollution during the school run than anywhere else, so it was extremely worrying to see this problem flying under the radar for so many. As it stands, a lack of viable school travel options is forcing parents across the country to take their children to and from school in their cars, which in turn poses threats to children’s safety that many are not even aware of.  

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“School travel needs a serious rethink, if not a full-blown revolution. Pupils, parents and schools are all being negatively impacted by a school run that is no longer fit for purpose, and the only way we’re going to stop this is by working together. Schools and parents working as one with pupils’ needs front of mind, and the support of stakeholders, businesses and the community around them, can stop this deadly issue in its tracks and drive a safer, greener school run that truly meets the needs of all.”

Kura is a leading provider of home-to-school transport services, providing safe travel for over 7,000 pupils a day across 300 routes. Kura is part of the Transport2 Group which carries over two million passengers a year. Kura is currently expanding its network of partner-schools throughout the UK, working to identify and deliver a safer, greener, smarter school run.

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