Back to school means the mornings and afternoons are full of children walking to and from school or bus stops. Younger children may be more at risk for injury in a pedestrian accident or forget the pedestrian safety tips that their parents taught them.
Keep your child safe this year by reviewing these critical school crossing safety tips.
Understanding the Risks
The following statistics underscore the danger of pedestrian accidents for the very young:
- In an average year, 16% of children killed in traffic accidents are pedestrians.
- In a recent year, nearly 250 children 14 and under died in pedestrian accidents, while older teens accounted for another 245 pedestrian deaths.
- In a recent year, over 31,000 pedestrian accident victims aged 19 and under were treated for injuries in the ER.
Essential Pedestrian Safety Tips
Protect your students as they walk to and from school or while they’re outside playing with these actionable pedestrian safety tips for parents:
Follow Traffic Rules
Pedestrians must follow these essential traffic rules:
- Follow all posted traffic signs (stop, yield, etc.)
- Obey signals at guided intersections (those with traffic lights)
- Only cross when they have the right-of-way to do so
Pedestrians must also take responsibility for their own safety by crossing the street only at designated intersections or crosswalks.
Remind your children to look left, right, then left again, checking for approaching vehicles before crossing. It’s a good habit for children to get used to always looking for traffic, even if they have a walk signal or are in a crosswalk, as a distracted driver may not be paying attention to crossing pedestrians.
The riskiest time for a child pedestrian accident is in the evening, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
If your child is walking or playing outside at dusk or in the evening, make sure they wear light-colored, reflective clothing. You may wish to purchase reflective strips to attach to their clothes so they’re more visible to drivers.
Encourage your child to carry a small flashlight or use a flashlight app on their phone to avoid trip hazards and add another degree of visibility.
Encourage your child to avoid using headphones while walking and pay attention to the street instead of their phone. With headphones on, they may not hear approaching vehicles or a car honking at them.
Where you walk as a pedestrian is vital for safety:
- Walk only on the sidewalk whenever possible, not on the road.
- If there isn’t a sidewalk, then walk at the edge of the road, facing oncoming traffic.
- Avoid crossing in the middle of the street (jaywalking) or crossing between parked cars.
Be Cautious at Crosswalks
Although a pedestrian has the right-of-way in a crosswalk, that doesn’t make crossing completely safe. Look both ways before entering the crosswalk, and if you can, make eye contact with the drivers so you know they see you. That is one of the most important safety tips for preschoolers, who might be too young to follow some of the more advanced ones.
Keep watch for vehicles making a right-hand turn, as drivers may not be looking at the crosswalk and, therefore, won’t see you.