Pedestrian/Walking Safety

Child Health Advocacy and Kids' Safety

Pedestrian/Walking Safety

The facts about pedestrian/walking safety:
  • 4,749 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes in 2003 in the United States. More than two-thirds of the pedestrian fatalities were male, and nearly one-half occurred on Friday, Saturday or Sunday
  • On average, a pedestrian is killed in a traffic crash every 111 minutes. Almost one-fourth of children between 5 and 9 years old killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians.
  • There were 70,000 pedestrians injured in traffic crashes in 2003. Traffic crashes are the most common cause of serious head trauma. Pedestrian motor vehicle collisions are very different from other types of trauma in that very few of the victims escape injury.
  • On average, a pedestrian is injured in a traffic crash every eight minutes
  • Toddlers (ages 1 to 2) sustain the highest number of pedestrian injuries, mostly due to their small size and limited traffic experience. More than half of all toddler pedestrian injuries occur when a vehicle is backing up.
  • Children darting out between vehicles and dashing across intersections account for 60 to 70 percent of the total pedestrian injuries for children under the age of 10

How do pedestrian injuries occur?

Due to higher traffic volumes and higher than average speeds, injuries are most likely to occur during the evening rush hour between 3 and 7pm (44 percent of all young pedestrian fatalities under age 16). Fatigue and lack of attention also increase the risk of a child suffering a pedestrian injury on the way home from school.

Elementary-age children are at greatest risk because of their limited developmental skills. Children at this age group have a field of vision one-third narrower than an adult’s. They are often unable to determine the direction of sounds and cannot yet accurately judge the speed or distance of moving vehicles or the time it takes for them to stop.

These children often overestimate their own abilities, are easily distracted and tend to focus on one thing at a time (like a ball or a friend). Due to their size, elementary-age children are easily hidden by bushes, snow banks and parked cars.

Teach Your Children to Protect Themselves

As a parent, you can teach your children how to protect themselves from injury resulting from a pedestrian accident:

  • Set an example. Children will imitate what they see adults and teenagers do. If you walk out between parked cars, jaywalk or cross against the light, more than likely your children will, too.
  • Show small children where they can play safely and the limits beyond which they cannot go. Be prepared to enforce your rules.
  • Teach older children the basic rules for crossing the street safely. Take them for a walk, demonstrating and explaining the rules you have established.
  • Teach children to recognize pedestrian crossing signals. Remind them to continue crossing if the light changes to Don't Walk while they are in the crosswalk.

Safety Tips for Walkers

  • Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, pedestrians should walk facing traffic.
  • Wear brightly colored clothing
  • Investigate the safest route to work. The route for motor vehicles may not be the best walking route. Consider lighting, automobile traffic and the existence of bike lanes or sidewalks.
  • Try to find a walking buddy. Children under the age of ten should be accompanied by adults or older children when crossing the street. Plus, there’s safety in numbers.
  • Know the law. Most applicable laws were passed for safety reasons.
  • Cross only at the corners
  • Before stepping out into the street, even when the light is green, stop at the curb, look left, look right and look left again
  • Be alert for turning vehicles. They are often so busy checking traffic and turning that they will not see pedestrians.
  • Make sure that all vehicles in the roadway have stopped for you and make eye contact with drivers prior to crossing in front of them. Don’t assume that because you can see the driver, they can see you. Be aware of cars coming from behind a stopped car, or one in an adjacent lane.
  • Teach children to cross the street 10 feet in front of a school bus and to wait for adults on the same side of the street as the school bus loading or unloading zone
  • Walk, don't run. You may think crossing the street in a hurry makes more safety sense, but should you need to stop for a car that didn't see you, it will take longer when you are running.