In 2015, 456 children died as pedestrians involved in motor vehicle collisions, according to the Pedestrian Fact Sheet from Safe Kids Worldwide. And if this statistic wasn’t bad enough, over 40,000 child pedestrians suffered injuries in accidents involving cars in 2014. Although the statistics account for those aged one to 19, the majority of children who died and suffered injuries in pedestrian accidents were teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19.
While not all of these pedestrian accidents took place near schools, many accidents occur every year in school zones that result in child and teen injuries and fatalities. And because more kids are out walking when school is in session, we would like to take a closer look at school zone pedestrian accidents.
Causes of School Zone Pedestrian Accidents
- Distracted driving. When drivers engage in an activity such as texting that takes their hands off of the wheel, mind away from driving, and eyes off the road, accidents are more likely. What’s shocking is that a study from Safe Kids USA shows that one in six drivers in school zones are driving while distracted.
- Speeding. Many drivers blow through school zones without slowing down. They either ignore the reduced speed limit or fail to see it due to distracted driving. When drivers are going too fast in and around schools, it is more difficult for a car to come to a stop for a pedestrian.
- Distracted walking. Many kids (especially teenagers and those in middle school) walk to school wearing headphones while listening to music or look at their cell phones while walking. Unfortunately, distracted walking can increase the risk of being involved in a pedestrian accident.
- Unsafe school zones. It is hard to believe, but there are many school zones that are still dangerous because lawmakers haven’t addressed the risks and have failed to post slower school zone speed limits. Many schools are missing marked crosswalks, traffic lights, or even crossing guards.
Because school zone pedestrian accidents are a very real threat to our children, there is no better time than now to promote walking safety and adopt healthy walking habits, which is why we have provided some additional safety tips for pedestrians.
School Zone Pedestrian Safety Tips
Let’s face it, kids aren’t always aware of the rules involved in crossing the street or safe practices to reduce their risk of being in a pedestrian accident. For these reason, we would like parents to review the below safety tips with their children in an effort to reduce their child’s chance of being in a pedestrian school zone accident.
- Look. Remind your kids to look left, right and then left again before stepping off of a curb to cross a street. This message should be one that is taught to kids at a young age and then repeated over the years as kids become more independent.
- Listen. Just like it is safe to look for cars, it is also important to listen for traffic before crossing the street. Parents need to reinforce the message that cell phones and headphones should be put down—especially when crossing the street. Being able to hear cars can actually increase a pedestrian’s safety.
- Cross with caution. Although most pedestrians are taught to follow the pedestrian signals, parents need to remind their children that just because the “Walk” signal is illuminated doesn’t mean the street is completely safe. Pedestrians still need to look and listen before crossing the street.
- Use sidewalks. When pedestrians are walking in the roadway, their chances of being hit by a car increase. Parents need to remind their children to use sidewalks or paths when they are available, and to walk facing traffic as far to the left side as possible when there are no sidewalks.
- Walk with your kids. According to SafeKids.org, most children cannot judge the speed and distance of an oncoming car until the age of 10. This means that children age 10 and under should be walking with an adult, and adults should be setting a good example by putting down their phones.
If you feel like the school your child attends doesn’t have a safe pedestrian environment, we urge you to speak with school officials and local lawmakers to see what else can be done to make pedestrians safer as they walk to school. And please share this article on your favorite social media site so others can benefit from this message.