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Pedestrian Safety-----Common Questions, Quick Answers

Author / Coordinator: Donna D'Alessandro, M.D. & Lindsay Huth, B.A.
University of Iowa
March 2007

Why are children at greatest risk of pedestrian accidents?

  • Children are at risk because they do not yet have the ability to make good decisions about traffic.
  • It is hard for them to judge how fast a car is going and how far away it is. It is hard for them to tell how much time they have to cross they street.
  • Children are at risk because they are impulsive. They may make a decision to cross traffic without taking the time to think about whether or not it is safe.
  • Children may believe cars can stop instantly.
  • Children may believe that if they can see a car, the driver can see them.

When are injuries most likely to happen?

  • Injuries can happen at any time.
  • Injuries are most likely to happen on weekdays, 3:00 to 7:00 PM.
  • Children are at risk when they are walking home from school or playing.

Where are injuries most likely to happen?

  • Injuries can happen anywhere, even on dry, straight streets with little traffic.
  • Injuries are more likely to happen in areas with lots of traffic.
  • Injuries are more likely in areas without crosswalks.
  • Injuries are more likely on streets with lots of parked cars.
  • Driveways are common injury sites.

To whom are injuries most likely to happen?

  • Injuries can happen to anyone.
  • Children ages 5-14 are at risk, but children under 10 years old are at greatest risk.

What can parents do?

  • Teach your child how to follow traffic signals and read signs.
  • Teach your child stranger safety.
  • If your child walks to school or to a friend's house, find the safest route.
  • Walk it with your child every day.
  • If you notice safety hazards, such as trees or signs that make it hard for a driver to see a child at the curb, choose a different route.
  • When your child is used to the route, let her walk it without you.
  • Set a good example. Practice pedestrian safety, even if your child is not with you. Someone else's child may be watching you and follow your example.
  • Follow traffic signs when driving. Stop at crosswalks. Drive the speed limit. Drive with caution.

How can injuries be prevented?

  • Children under age 10 should not be allowed to cross the street alone. They should always cross with an older child or an adult.
  • Avoid letting children walk in the dark. If they must, they should wear reflective clothing. Reflective clothing is shiny when hit by lights, so drivers can see your children better.
  • Children can wear reflective clothes, bracelets, or shoes. Put reflective stickers on their backpacks.
  • White clothing is okay for the dark, but reflective clothing is best.
  • Have children use a flashlight when walking in the dark.
  • Bright colored clothes will help drivers see children during the day.
  • Teach children not to play behind parked cars in driveways.
  • Children should never play in the street or in parking lots.
  • Teach children not to run into the street to chase a ball or a pet.

What safety tips should I teach my child?

  • Walk when crossing streets. Don't run.
  • Cross at street corners. Go straight. Not in a diagonal line.
  • Stop at the curb. Look both directions before you cross the street. Look one way, look the other way, then look back the other way again. If there are no cars, cross. If there is a car, wait.
  • Teach children to watch for cars turning from side streets.
  • Use crosswalks.
  • At crosswalks, make eye contact with the driver before you cross.
  • Cross only when the sign says to "walk." If it says "don't walk" before you get across, make eye contact with drivers and quickly walk to the other side. Do not stop in the middle.
  • Do not cross behind parked cars or bushes. Do not cross behind or between cars.
  • Cross in front of the school bus after getting off.
  • Be extra careful in bad weather. It's harder for drivers to see and harder to slow down or stop.
  • Always walk on the sidewalk. Children should not walk on roads without sidewalks. If they must, they should walk facing traffic.

Quick Answers

  • Children are at risk for pedestrian injuries because they are not yet able to make good decisions about traffic.
  • Injuries can happen at any time.
  • Injuries can happen anywhere, even on dry, straight streets with little traffic.
  • Injuries can happen to anyone. Children ages 5-14 are at risk, but children under 10 years old are at greatest risk.
  • If your child walks to school or to a friend's house, find the safest route. Walk it with your child every day until you feel sure she can safely walk alone.
  • Avoid letting children walk in the dark. If they must, they should wear reflective clothing.
  • Teach children how to read traffic signs and how to cross the street safely.