Would you believe that the number of pedestrian deaths in 2019 hit the highest number in 30 years? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports there were 6,205 pedestrian deaths in 2019, and they expect the numbers to rise in the coming years. This drastically increasing number has caused a stir, and many are paying attention. Crosswalk injury and death affect those around us and those we love. New road-safety programs have a focus on bringing pedestrian fatalities down to zero. This involves creating awareness in drivers, pedestrians, as well as reconsidering certain streets and how to cross safely.
Children ages 19 and under are hit by vehicles at an alarming rate, teens being the most at risk for fatalities and nonfatal injuries. So, what are some ways we can prevent injury or even death in our kids and teens? How can we make a difference and protect those we love?
Safety Tips to Avoid Crosswalk Injury
Many kids love to walk and ride bikes to school or run down the street to a friend’s house. Of course, you hope they remember to be safe, but if you haven’t taken the time to talk about street safety, now’s the time! Teaching your kids all about what to expect on busy roads or even in your neighborhood could save their lives, especially when crossing roads and using crosswalks.
Crosswalk Injury Prevention on the Street
As pedestrian injuries are on the rise, we all need to do our part to spread the word about safety precautions and injury prevention. We need to teach school-age kids in our home and our neighborhood at a young age about using crosswalks as well as watching out for cars and drivers that are not watching out for them.
Some of these safety tips can include:
- Stopping at the curb before stepping out onto the crosswalk
- Never running into the street
- Walking on sidewalks whenever they are available
- Unplugging – Don’t be a distracted pedestrian on your phone or other electronic devices
- Looking both ways – to the left, to the right, and then to the left again. (This can start at a very young age.)
- Crossing at street corners or in crosswalks and always looking for cars that may not see you
- Following crossing guard instructions and waiting for them to help you cross the street
- Always, always watching out for cars. Drivers may not be obeying traffic laws or notice a pedestrian walking in the street. It’s better to be safe and assume the driver does NOT see you.
- Paying attention to your surroundings
- Watching out for cars backing out of their driveway or pulling in. (Keep an eye on people backing up in parking lots too.)
- Never walking between parked cars to walk across the street. (It is much harder for cars to see you quick enough to stop.)
Teenager Safety Precautions
As our kids get a little older and start enjoying a little more freedom than they used to, they tend to explore a little further from home. We may think that they are old enough to know all the safety rules, but unless you intentionally teach them about street safety and crosswalk injury prevention, they might not know as much as you think. So make sure that your teenager knows to:
- Walk against or facing traffic while staying on the sidewalk or off to the left in areas without sidewalks.
- Bike with traffic while staying to the right.
- Never, ever run across the street
- Never assume the driver can see you. Be sure to make eye contact with the driver, so you know they are looking at you and are watching as you begin to cross the street.
- Wear clothing that can be seen easily in the dark. It is helpful to wear reflective material or add reflective tape for extra safety.
- Always be aware of what’s around you. This includes cars and other pedestrians.
- Stay off your phone when crossing the street. Avoid all distractions.
Everyone Plays a Part
At some point in time, possibly on a daily basis, we are all pedestrians. So learning, teaching, and then acting on the safety tips we’ve discussed is how we can save lives and prevent future crosswalk injury.
Not only are we a pedestrian at some point, but most likely a driver as well. Staying alert while driving and minimizing distractions can save a life. It’s so easy to get caught up with your day, your demanding kids in the backseat, or making it to an appointment on time. But remember to obey traffic laws and keep a lookout for pedestrians when you come to a crosswalk. When you’re driving in a neighborhood, slow down and watch for small children jumping out between cars. Try to be extra careful when you’re backing out of your driveway and watch for kids or others that could be behind you. Remember to slow down in school zones too.
Be aware of certain situations or special occasions that could put your school-age kids at particular risk for a crosswalk injury. Being distracted by friends, phones, music, or more could add risk. A holiday like Halloween can be particularly dangerous and pose many possible pedestrian risks to your kids if they aren’t paying attention. Keep these days and times in mind and help your kids be more self-aware of the dangers they may come across.
Leading by example is how your kids and others may learn what they need in order to stay safe on the street. You never know how your example can impact those around you, possibly saving someone you love.
At Wormington & Bollinger, we know that accidents happen, but we want to help in any way we can. If you or a loved one has been involved in a crosswalk injury or other pedestrian wrongdoing, we would love to be a trusted advocate in your time of need. For more information on how we can help, contact us today.