There is an increasing amount of traffic on the road each year, making simple journeys more time consuming and stressful. This increase in the use of cars can cause a number of environmental, social and health impacts. Some affect us directly - accident statistics show that our roads can be dangerous places, while traffic congestion can have adverse effects on our health and general well-being. Others are far less obvious but may have more far-reaching consequences. For example, the gases and chemicals released by engines contribute to global warming and air pollution.
Emissions of CO2 have been falling since 1970 due to the increased efficiency in energy use and the use of alternative energy sources.1 However, despite improved technology and fuel efficiencies, transport is the only sector that shows an increase in CO2 emissions.
The increasing use of motor vehicles has an impact on the growth in local air pollution. Exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulates – all of which are harmful to health when released into the environment.
School Travel Plans look at and effect both the global and local environment.
A recent study has shown that children have a good grasp of a whole range of environmental issues but this needs to be furthered by exploring their own environment. The same study asked children how they would wish to improve their environment – it’s not surprising that the majority response was for there to be less traffic.2
The National Curriculum now includes Education for Sustainable Development and this can be linked with School Travel Plan work in a number of ways. (For further information please refer to Curriculum Links)
1. Environment Agency July 2004