Cars aren’t the only things out there being hit by other cars. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were over 34,000 pedestrian fatalities last year in the United States. As adults, we understand the basics when it comes to safety and walking and crossing our streets. Our kids, however, can actually be quite vulnerable when they are outside near streets and traffic. They are full of energy, but they also sometimes lack judgment when it comes to walking or riding their bike.
Teaching children basic crosswalk rules and rules of the road are just some of the ways to keep our kids safe. Safe driving is critical to keeping our communities and our children accident free. We all have a role to play, whether you own a car, bike or just a good pair of shoes.
Here are 10 ways to help improve child pedestrian safety, whether you’re walking or driving:
1. Sidewalks and Crosswalks: Talk to your kids about how to be safe while walking. It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Most injuries happen mid-block or someplace other than intersections. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic and as far away from vehicles as possible.
2. Be Visible: If you’re walking, wear light colors, retro-reflective material, and/or a flashlight to make sure drivers can see you.
3. Lead by Example: When you’re walking on the sidewalk, in parking lots or in the street with children, put your mobile devices away. It will improve your concentration and set a good example for children.
4. Pedestrians Put Devices Down: It’s never too early to teach kids the right way to cross the street: have them put down their devices and then look left, right, and left again when crossing the street.
5. Accompany the Young Ones: Always accompany children under 10 when they cross the street. Judging speed and distance is more difficult for children under age 10.
6. Eye Contact: Make eye contact with drivers and watch for cars that are turning or backing out of parking spaces or driveways-and remind kids to do the same.
7. Drivers Put Devices Down: Put devices down when you are driving. If we put our devices away, our kids are more likely to do the same.
8. Aware at Night: Be especially aware during the night or bad weather when it’s more difficult to see. Drivers especially must keep a lookout and slow down if visibility is low.
9. Crosswalk Caution: Always approach crosswalks slowly and be prepared to stop.
10. Watch for Pedestrians When Turning: When making turns, wait until there’s a gap in foot traffic, and allow people to cross safely.
Basics are basics for a reason…..they are tried and true methods of success. Make sure your walk in the park doesn’t turn into a night in the emergency room!