If you are a parent, it is probably safe to say that your children are a few of the most precious people in your life. Young children are naturally energetic, active, and impulsive, and they don’t always do what is best for their safety, and that is why many parents are extremely protective of their children. However, as is the case for every child, eventually they have to venture beyond your protective bubble in order to go to school, and the statistics regarding their trip there and back may frighten you.
In 2010, one-fifth of all child traffic fatalities under the age of 10 were pedestrian accident related, and most often, these accidents occur during the hours when children were coming home from school. Our lawyers want to debunk some common misconceptions regarding child pedestrians, so you can communicate the facts to your child to better keep them safe.
Myth #1: It is always safe to cross at a green light.
Fact: A green light doesn’t mean you don’t have to use caution. Children should stop and scan the intersection before crossing, paying special attention to vehicles making right turns at a red light, and cars that disregard the lights.
Myth #2: You are safe if you use the cross walk.
Fact: Never assume that a driver will obey traffic laws. Wait until a vehicle has come to a complete stop at a cross walk before beginning to walk. Always look left-right-left, to ensure that there are no moving cars coming.
Myth #3: If you can see the driver, he can see you as well.
Fact: Many children are smaller, and can be easily missed by larger vehicles, or by individuals who are simply not paying attention to what is in front of them. Don’t even assume a driver will stop for you, and be cautious when walking in front of or behind vehicles.
Myth #4: If you wear bright colors, you will be visible to drivers at night.
Fact: White and other light/bright colors will not make you more visible at night. Children should avoid walking at night, and if they absolutely must they should carry a flashlight, or wear retro-reflective clothing. It is also extremely important to always walk facing traffic, so that you can see a vehicle coming sooner.
Myth #5: If you run across the street, you will beat the traffic.
Fact: You should never dart across a street, or run into a street. As we stated earlier, drivers are often unpredictable, and there is no guarantee that a driver will be able to react and stop for you if you suddenly move into the road. Always walk, and move in a way that a driver can easily predict and react to. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
By sitting down with your child and communicating these key facts, you can better prepare them to be a pedestrian, keeping them safe and giving them the tools they need to be independent.