Child Pedestrian Safety – Protecting Your Children
Thousands of children are injured as pedestrians in traffic accidents each year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures show that in 2010, of the children killed in traffic accidents between the ages of 5 and 9, nearly 1/5 were pedestrians. Those under the age of 15 accounted for 23% of pedestrian injuries in traffic accidents. Most accidents occur near the child’s home or on neighborhood streets between the hours of 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm. Not surprisingly, pedestrian safety for children has become a topic of renewed study.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, in 2015, 456 child pedestrians died as a result of motor vehicle collisions. This represents a rate of less than 1 child per 100,000 children, and despite the downward trend in the fatality rate over the past 20 years, there has been a 13 percent increase among teenagers since 2013. In 2014, over 40,000 children suffered a non-fatal pedestrian injury.
Parents and caregivers may be most familiar with their children’s abilities, but commonly overestimate their walking skills. Such confidence can often lead to dangerous situations that could easily be avoided. In order to help children become safe pedestrians, it is important for adults to understand how children view the world, as well how their abilities to exercise reason change over time. Pedestrian safety for children requires guidance and patience. Young children are not developmentally able to navigate traffic safely for several reasons:
- They are not able to judge speed and distance of approaching vehicles accurately
- They are impulsive and often act without thinking first
- Their field of vision is 1/3 that of an adult
- They believe that if they can see a driver, the driver can see them
- They believe cars can stop instantaneously
- They do not have the ability or experience to recognize and react to a dangerous situation
- They are difficult to see between parked cars or from behind vehicles
Pedestrian Safety for Children Begins With Parents
It is important for parents to take precautionary measures and educate their children about pedestrian safety. In addition to constant supervision early on, basic safety principles include:
- Emphasize that traffic can be dangerous
- Teach children how to read road signs, what they mean and emphasize they should be obeyed
- Stop at the curb or edge of the road and look left, right and left again before crossing
- Always cross at street corners
- Start crossing only when no cars are coming and only go directly across the road
- Continue to be aware of traffic even after you have started crossing
- Never run into the street
- Be alert for moving traffic on the road and in parking lots and driveways
- Never run or stand behind a parked vehicle
- Always use sidewalks when available
- Teach children to walk facing traffic where there is no sidewalk
- Hold your child’s hand when walking in the road or parking lot
- Teach older kids not to walk and talk on a cell phone and/or pay extra attention if using headphones
It takes time and maturity for children to develop a sense of danger and gain experience with traffic before they can cross the street alone. Until a child is able to independently decide where and when to walk the best advice for parents is to set a good example for children. Cross the road with them hundreds of times to instill the skills they need through repetition and positive reinforcement.
Only You Can Tell When Your Child Is Ready
The age at which each child will be old enough to walk without an adult varies. Until parents are confident their children have reached that age, walking with them can be a fun and healthy activity to enjoy together while teaching pedestrian safety for children and learning safety skills to last a lifetime.
For Additional Information
- Safe Kids Worldwide
- Los Angeles Department of Transportation
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Contact Aslin Tutuyan to Help Evaluate Your Case
Aslin Tutuyan is a personal injury attorney with The Mandell Law Firm in Woodland Hills, California. Mandell Law is an aggressive personal injury law firm serving clients throughout the San Fernando Valley, the Greater Los Angeles area, and Southern California. Experienced and reputable, our attorneys provide hands-on care and sincere commitment to victims of personal injury and harms of all kinds, including auto accidents and pedestrian injury. Contact Aslin Tutuyan for a free consultation at 818.886.6600.