Practical Advice for Parents: Pedestrian Safety
 
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  Each year in the United States, more than 47,000 children age 14 and younger are injured as pedestrians. Of these, about 700 die. One-fifth of all traffic fatalities among children ages 14 and younger are pedestrian.

The beginning and end of the school year, when more children are on the streets and routines change, pose the greatest risk to children. Most injuries occur between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and children who are between the ages of 5 and 9 are at greatest risk. Many children are hit by vehicles after darting into traffic from between two parked cars.

Very few children younger than 10 years old can deal safely with traffic. These children are at risk because:
  • They are impulsive and tend to do things without thinking first.
  • They believe that if they can see a driver, the driver can see them.
  • They believe cars can stop instantly.
  • Few can judge the speed of traffic or distances.
  • A child’s field of vision is one-third of an adult’s.
  • They do not recognize or react to unsafe situations.
The best advice is for parents to be examples for their children. Younger children are at the greatest risk of being involved in an accident because they have not yet developed a sense of danger.

Before letting children cross streets alone, it is important for parents to cross the streets hundreds of times with them. Children develop skills through repetition and positive reinforcement.

Parents should practice the following safety skills with their children:
  • Do not allow a child younger than age 10 to cross the street alone.
  • Pedestrian SafetyLearn to read and understand traffic signals and signs.
  • Be alert to potential hazards.
  • Look left, right and left again before crossing roadways.
  • Stop at the curb or edge of the road before crossing the street.
  • Never run into the street.
  • Never play in the street.
  • Once a street is clear, it usually is safe to cross. However, keep looking for oncoming traffic until the street has been crossed safely.
  • Always try to walk on paths or sidewalks. If paths or sidewalks are not available, walk on the side of the road facing traffic.
  • Always cross streets at designated crosswalks.
  • Never cross between parked cars.
  • When walking at dusk or during evening hours, make sure to wear bright clothes and some type of reflective device. Do not walk alone at night.
Parents should supervise children at all times until they prove they are safe pedestrians, even when distracted. It also is important for parents to structure their child’s play areas in locations away from any type of traffic.

Children need to learn to be safe pedestrians. Drivers also should slow down in residential and school areas and should always remember that children are impulsive and tend not to think before they act.