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Pedestrian Safety for Children

Fewer children are walking and exposing themselves to the risks of traffic today. Yet pedestrian injury remains a leading cause of accidental injury-related death among children between ages 5 and 14.

Children are at an increased risk for pedestrian injury and death. This is because the traffic rules and risks often are beyond their thinking, developmental, behavioral, physical, and sensory abilities. In addition, parents and caregivers often overestimate their child's traffic skills.

Older children can be at risk for pedestrian accidents because they may be distracted by their cellphones. They may be texting, using ear buds, or talking on their cellphone while crossing the street.

Unfortunately, when child pedestrians are injured, it is often severe.

Where do most child pedestrian injuries and deaths happen?

Many child pedestrian deaths happen in the evenings. This is when visibility may be reduced. Places where children have a higher risk of pedestrian injury or death include:

  • High-traffic areas

  • Areas with a high number of parked vehicles on street

  • Areas with higher posted speed limits

  • Areas with no divided highways

  • Areas with few pedestrian-control devices, such as crosswalk signals

  • Locations that lack specific play areas 

  • Residential areas

  • Driveways

  • Straight, paved, dry roads

How do I keep my child safe as a pedestrian?

  • Don't let children under age 10 cross streets by themselves.

  • Teach children correct pedestrian behavior by modeling it yourself. Examples include crossing at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks when available, and making eye contact with drivers before crossing.

  • Teach children to look left, right, and then left again when crossing a street. Also teach children to keep looking around when crossing.

  • Teach children that seeing the driver in a vehicle doesn't mean that the driver can see them.

  • Never allow children to run into the street.

  • Don't let children play in driveways, unfenced yards, streets, or parking lots.

  • When walking along a street with no sidewalks, teach children to walk facing oncoming traffic, as far left as possible.

  • At dawn and dusk, have children wear reflective materials and carry flashlights.

  • Teach children to cross the street at least 10 feet in front of a school bus.

  • Have children wait for adults on the same side of the street where the school bus loads and unloads.

There are other preventive measures you can take to help make your community safer. These include insisting on:

  • Safer traffic measures

  • Pedestrian walkways that separate pedestrians from car traffic

  • Lower speed limits

Online Medical Reviewer: Eric Perez MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Marianne Fraser MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Maryann Foley RN BSN
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2021
© 2000-2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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