Soon, area children will be back in school, walking to and from their bus stops and making the trek to school on foot. Because hundreds of children die each year when involved in pedestrian accidents, it is crucial for parents to talk to their children now about safety.
Children ages 14 and younger accounted for 255 of the nation’s 4,743 pedestrian fatalities, or five percent, in 2012, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Safe Kids Worldwide reports that unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related fatalities among children ages 5 to 19 in the U.S. Teens have the highest risk, accounting for about half of all pedestrian deaths among children.
How to Teach Pedestrian Safety to Your Young Children
Teaching our children about pedestrian safety is something that must begin early – as soon as they are able to watch and learn from our actions. Whether we are walking with our toddler to the park or driving among pedestrian traffic, we must exercise caution not only for our own safety and the safety of others but also because little eyes are always watching.
As your child gets older, you can teach them the basics of pedestrian safety, including:
- Only cross the street at corners or in designated crosswalks
- Look both ways multiple times before crossing the street
- Never assume a driver sees you
- Use sidewalks and never walk in the street
- When you’re walking, put your phone or other devices down to pay attention to the task at hand
- Don’t dart out into the street or between parked cars
- Pay attention to drivers backing out of parking spaces and driveways.
Another good example you can set for your kids is slowing down and obeying reduced speed limits near schools.
You should also never pass a stopped school bus. Doing so is against the law in Virginia, and for good reason: It is one of the leading reasons for pedestrian deaths involving children.
How to Keep Your Teens Safe
As children grow and walk to school on their own, revisit the above basic tips frequently. Ask them when they come home from school if they followed basic safety precautions.
Make sure they understand that the risks are still present despite their age. Safety actually is even more important as they grow into teenagers.
Teens especially should be aware that they are among the most at risk of being hurt or killed in a pedestrian accident. They can reduce this risk by:
- Putting their gadgets away when walking near traffic
- Refraining from horseplay with their friends near streets and in parking lots
- Always ensuring drivers see them before entering the street
- Staying visible when walking at night.
Whether your child walks to and from school or plays in the neighborhood without supervision, they could easily become a victim of a distracted or careless driver. Please do your part to keep them safe.