Young children are naturally energetic, active, and impulsive, and they don’t always do what is best for their own safety. In most environments, their actions result in nothing more than a few scraps or bruises, but near a roadway, they can be deadly. As parents, we may be able to keep a watchful eye on our children most of the time, but once they set off for school, we have to trust we have taught them what they need to know to keep themselves safe.
Roughly one-fifth of all child traffic fatalities under the age of 10 are pedestrians, and most often, these accidents occur during the hours when children are coming to and from school. Our lawyers believe the best way to keep our children safe is to maintain an open dialogue about the facts and 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 at a green light.
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 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 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, you will be visible to drivers 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: If you run across the street, you will 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.