The danger of walking to school has never been greater than it is now with texting, tweeting and phone calls to distract drivers.
During the back-to-school season — in August and September — at Children’s Medical Center, the Emergency Department sees an increase in trauma-related pedestrian, bicycle and school bus injuries.
Last year, there were 83 patients admitted to Children’s after suffering injuries from being hit by a car while walking and six of these children died.
Many of these injuries and those like it are preventable by following some simple safety guidelines.
“The most common injury we see from children walking to school is a vehicle collision with a human,” said Claudia Romo, program manager for Injury Prevention at Children’s. “These injuries can range from scrapes and bruises to multiple fractures, head and brain injuries.”
To help prevent such accidents, follow these pedestrian safety tips and discuss them with your children.
Pedestrian Safety Tips
- Children should walk with an adult until they are at least 10 years old, and they should hold a grown-up’s hand when they cross the street or are in parking lots.
- Always cross the street at a corner or at a crosswalk; cross with a crossing guard if there is one.
- Walk on a sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left side of the street, facing oncoming traffic.
- Look left, then right, then left again before crossing the street. Continue looking while you cross.
- After dark, make sure children wear light-colored clothing or clothing with reflective material.
- Only cross in front of a bus when the driver says it is safe to do so.
- Do not cross behind the bus or where a driver cannot see you.
- Do not run onto a street for a ball, pet or any other reason.
- Children should always play in a backyard or playground when they are outside and stay away from streets or parking lots whenever possible.
Evaluating Safety Along School Routes
Each year coalitions from Safe Kids Walk This Way have created local task forces with the goal of improving safety along school routes. Examples of things these groups evaluate include:
- Is there a curb at the school entrance?
- Are pedestrian safety lights and countdown timers available where needed?
- Are crossing signs in place where needed?
- Are crosswalks easy to see and are there flashing lights to alert drivers?
- Would safety be increased with solar-powered flashing school zone and speed limit signs?
- Would speedboards or flexiposts help slow down traffic?
- Safe Routes (National Center for Safe Routes to School)