Record numbers of children being driven to school according to new survey

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The percentage of pupils travelling to school by car reached its highest ever recorded level in 2019, according to new data released today by Sustrans Scotland.

More than a quarter of pupils said they used private motorised transport to get to school each day, with 23.8% reporting they arrived by car – the highest level since the survey began in 2008.

Active travel, such as walking or cycling, also a fell to its lowest recorded level over the same period.

However, the number of children cycling to school in Edinburgh was it its highest – doubling since the survey began.

The findings form part of the annual Hands Up Scotland Survey, an official statistic in Scotland.

Funded by Transport Scotland, the survey was carried out in September 2019 by Sustrans Scotland in partnership with all 32 Scottish local authorities.

The findings also reveal a difference in active travel between independent and state schools.

44.5% of pupils from independent schools are driven to school whereas 23.6% of state school pupils are driven.

Sustrans Scotland’s National Director, John Lauder, said: “We want to thank all the schools who took part in the 2019 Hands Up Scotland Survey.

“The report is an incredibly useful indicator of trends in how children travel to school. Helping schools, local authorities and partners identify what needs to be improved to help more children travel actively every day.

“What we have seen during lockdown, with fewer cars on the road, is that people will change their behaviour if they feel their streets are safer.

“Travel patterns will have inevitably changed as a result of lockdown. It is important we make it easier and safer for children, parents and teachers to travel in an active and sustainable way.

“Our streets cannot afford more congestion and air pollution and our children cannot afford more inactivity after months of homeschooling. Let’s bring back something better.

“We need to make it easier and safer for children, parents and teachers to travel in an active and sustainable way, once schools re-open in August.

“Only then will we be able to ensure that walking, cycling and scooting is seen as a viable alternative to the private car.”