Pedestrians are at risk for serious injury as they use crosswalks and interact with traffic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that nearly 6,000 pedestrians died in 2017 as a result of being struck by a vehicle and many more received serious injuries.
While pedestrians are vulnerable, few are at more risk than young people. There are several ways parents can help improve their safety habits and awareness of the dangers around them as they travel on foot.
Obey traffic rules
Pedestrians are often bound to the same rules as vehicles and, in some cases, have additional regulations that apply to them while they share the road with motorists. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that pedestrian safety includes understanding the rules of the road. Parents and caregivers can safeguard young pedestrians by teaching them traffic rules that can help protect them, such as:
- Obeying crossing signs
- Walking facing traffic
- Using marked crosswalks
When young pedestrians understand they are subject to these rules, adhering to them while walking may help them stay safe under a variety of traffic circumstances.
Toddlers and elementary school-aged children are often more vulnerable to injury because of their size, which may make them more difficult for motorists to see. Parents and caregivers can reduce the risk of accidents by holding a child’s hand while crossing the street, teaching the child to look both ways for vehicles and by instructing them to only cross at marked crosswalks, even in areas where traffic is lighter.
Protecting tweens and teens
Tween and teenage pedestrians who remain aware of their surroundings can better protect themselves from potential accidents. Traveling defensively and avoiding earbud or earphone use when walking can help keep them safe.
Walking has several health benefits for people of all ages. While young pedestrians may face risks, using sidewalks and obeying traffic lights may reduce the chance of an accident.