Return-to-School Safety Tips for Kids and Teens
September 14, 2017
The Increasing Risk of Pedestrian Fatalities
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children under 15 were one of the most at-risk age groups for pedestrian fatalities in 2015. Safe Kids Worldwide (SKW), a nonprofit group that advocates for children’s safety, notes that the rates of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in 16 to 19-year-olds are increasing. In the last five years alone, the number has gone up by 25%. About to return to school, kids and teens are in more danger of being injured or killed as pedestrians, especially if they are on their cell phones or other electronic devices and are distracted.
Unintentional pedestrian injuries are the 5th leading cause of death in children 5 to 19-years-old – every day, cars hit an average of 40 kids while they are walking. The majority of these fatal or injury-causing accidents happen in more highly populated, urban areas, at nighttime and in non-designated intersections. Driver or pedestrian distraction, drug and alcohol impairment as well as speeding tend to be the largest contributing risk factors, according to the CDC.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that when a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is at .05 percent, still .03 beneath the legal cutoff for driving while intoxicated, a person’s chances of getting into an accident doubles. The CDC estimates that pedestrians in one out of every three fatal crashes had a BAC of at least .08 – and 15% of the drivers in these fatal crashes were also intoxicated by alcohol or drugs.
Out of nearly 70,000 pedestrians injured in accidents very year, the NHTSA concludes that at least 11,000 are under 14-years-old. After conducting an investigation on 34,000 school-age children, the SKW found one in five kids were distracted by electronic devices– usually from playing video games, texting, listening to music or talking on their phones – while crossing streets on their way to or from school. The investigation also found that girls were at a slightly increased risk for being distracted, and that if a traffic light was present, accidents could be up to 25% more likely to occur.
Because kids and teens are more likely to be involved in accidents where they are injured or could even lose their lives, the SKW launched an awareness campaign. As part of the campaign, the SKW urges teens to unplug their phones when they are about to cross the street and observe a “Moment of Silence” instead. The campaign also memorializes a recently deceased 15-year-old who lost her life after being struck by a vehicle while she was crossing the street.
Remembering the risks of crossing the street, especially when distracted, can help inhibit the chances of fatal accidents happening. Here are some of the SKW’s top safety tips for kids and teens to remember as pedestrians:
- Look left and right – and then left one more time! – before you cross a street;
- Walk in designated areas, such as paths, sidewalks and crosswalks and be sure to follow traffic signals;
- If there are no sidewalks/pathways available, walk facing traffic as far to the left-side as you can;
- Put your phone, electronic device and/or headphones away before you cross the street, and:
- Be a role model for others – don’t be distracted by any kind of device when you are around cars
Please review the full list of the SKW’s top safety tips. The SKW also has safety tips that written especially for teens.
Some other helpful safety tips include increasing your visibility by always traveling with a flashlight and wearing retro-reflective clothing so that drivers can more easily see you. Reflective gear can also make pedestrians more visible in the daytime even though the effect of the gear is more visible at night.
In order to combat the increasing rates of teens being hurt or killed in pedestrian accidents, certain programs are banning “dangerous walking”, or texting while walking. A nationwide grant of $2 million has also been allocated for use in 22 cities where the number of pedestrian fatalities has been going up steadily. The money will be used to fight against pedestrian fatalities by developing educational and enforcement programs.
It is important that parents and caregivers start talking to their children at a young age about walking safely and avoiding distractions – as well as other dangerous habits – which all increase the chances of suffering catastrophic or fatal injuries in pedestrian accidents. Although many states currently have laws in effect that make it illegal to text or talk on the phone while driving, perhaps not enough have begun targeting the rate of pedestrians who are distracted by their technology. Everyone should remember, regardless of age, just how important it is to avoid distractions while operating automobiles or walking around them.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Pursues Recoveries for Injured Pedestrians
If you or a loved one has been injured as a pedestrian in an automobile accident, please contact our Philadelphia car accident lawyers. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Reading and Lancaster, Galfand Berger serves clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.