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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — North Carolina is encouraging students across the state to walk to school to promote regular physical activity and other benefits.

The state Department of Transportation says about 66 schools in North Carolina are participating in International Walk to School Day on Wednesday.

Events range from one-day observations to monthlong programs focused on pedestrian and bicycle education as well as safety awareness.

The agency says that motivation for taking part varies from community to community. Some promote regular exercise, while others use the opportunity to draw attention to making streets safer and reducing traffic congestion.

The department is also asking drivers to be especially cautious Wednesday, as there may be higher than usual numbers of students on bicycles or walking to class.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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