Roughly one-fifth of all child car accident fatalities under the age of ten are pedestrians, and most often, these accidents occur during the hours when children are coming to and from school. Young children are naturally energetic, active, and impulsive; in short, children don’t always do what is best for their own safety. In most environments, these abrupt actions result in nothing more than a few scrapes or bruises, but when a child plays in close proximity to a roadway, these impulses can be deadly. As much as we may want to be able to watch over and protect our children all of the time, the reality is that when they aren’t with us (such as when they are going to, or coming from school) we have to trust that we’ve taught them what they need to know to keep themselves safe.
Our lawyers believe the best way to keep our children safe is to maintain an open dialogue about the facts, and dispel the myths surrounding pedestrian safety. Here are just a few common misconceptions regarding child pedestrians; communicate these myths and reinforce the facts to your child to better keep them safe.
Myth #1: It Is Always Safe To Cross the Street If the Light is Green
Fact: A green light doesn’t mean you don’t have to use caution. Teach your children to always 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 Stay In 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, They Know You Are There
Fact: Many children are smaller in stature, 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 ever 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, Drivers Will Be Able To See You At Night
Fact: White and other light/bright colors will not always make you more visible at night. In general, discourage your children from 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: You Can Easily Run Across the Street To Beat the Traffic
Fact: As we stated earlier, children can be energetic and impulsive. Be emphatic with your child: they should NEVER dart across a street, or run into a street, and they should always be aware of their surroundings when playing. Drivers are often just as unpredictable as children, 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.