Walking to school can have multiple benefits for you and your kids such as spending time outdoors and starting the day with physical activity. However, with drivers distracted by texting, tweeting and phone calls, the danger of walking to school has increased over the years.
During the back-to-school season, the Emergency Department at Children’s Health℠ sees an increase in trauma-related pedestrian, bicycle and school bus injuries. Many of these injuries result from a collision with a vehicle, and are preventable by following some simple safety guidelines.
“Unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages 5 to 19,” says Jesus Alderete, senior injury prevention coordinator at Children’s Health.
“Together, we will educate students about safe pedestrian behaviors, identify pedestrian hazards and work with schools and communities to improve environments for child pedestrians.”
To help prevent such accidents, follow these pedestrian safety tips and discuss them with your children.
Pedestrian Safety Tips
- Children should walk with an adult until they are at least 10 years old, and they should hold a grown-up's hand when they cross the street or are in parking lots.
- Always cross the street at a corner or at a crosswalk and obey traffic signals; cross with a crossing guard if there is one.
- Walk on a sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the street, facing oncoming traffic.
- Look left, then right, then left again before crossing the street. Continue looking while you cross.
- Make sure children wear light-colored clothing or clothing with reflective material to be more visible to drivers.
- Only cross in front of a bus when the driver says it is safe to do so.
- Do not cross behind the bus or between parked cars, where a driver cannot see you. Always make eye contact with drivers before you cross.
- Do not run onto a street for a ball, pet or any other reason. Children should always play in a backyard or playground when they are outside and stay away from streets or parking lots whenever possible.
- Children will model the behavior of adults, so be mindful of pedestrian rules to set a good example and keep kids safe.
Evaluating Safety Along School Routes
Each year coalitions from Safe Kids Walk This Way have created local task forces with the goal of improving safety along school routes. Examples of things these groups evaluate include:
- Is there a curb at the school entrance?
- Are pedestrian safety lights and countdown timers available where needed?
- Are crossing signs in place where needed?
- Are crosswalks easy to see and are there flashing lights to alert drivers?
- Would safety be increased with solar-powered flashing school zone and speed limit signs?
- Would speedboards or flexiposts help slow down traffic?
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