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Remind children about traffic dangers

Reviewed By: Sarah Haverstick, Safe Children Program Manager (Last Updated: September 9, 2010)

Now that school is well under way, experts at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt are asking parents to review pedestrian safety guidelines with their children. The statistics are sobering. In 2007, one of every five grade school-aged children killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians.

Sarah Haverstick, Safe Children Program Manager at Children's Hospital, says one thing parents need to know is that children younger than 10 are unable to correctly judge the speed of an approaching car. They should not be allowed to cross streets without direct supervision and should only cross at corners, using crosswalks when available. Unfortunately, many injuries and deaths also occur near school buses.

"Children should always cross 10 feet in front of a school bus, where the driver can see them. We hope parents remind their children never to cross behind the bus," said Haverstick.

Children need clear guidelines at bus stops. In addition to maintaining a safe distance from the bus, they should wait for the driver's cue before loading. Children being unloaded from the bus should wait for adults on the same side of the street as the school bus unloading zone whenever possible.

And drivers need to be aware of bus stop areas and school zones and use caution.

"It is not uncommon for cars to collide with buses. Drivers need to remember school buses make frequent stops to pick up children, and are required to stop at all railroad crossings. Sometimes children must cross in front of the bus, so drivers should never disregard the stop sign on the school bus," Haverstick said.

Drivers are urged to slow down and be alert in school zones or residential neighborhoods. More children are walking to school as a way to increase activity levels, so drivers need to be cautious, even in the early morning, when backing out of driveways - check for children playing or crossing into the street.

Facts from the National Transportation and Safety Bureau:

  • In 2007, there were 27,440 nonfatal pedestrian child injuries, down from 47,328 in 2001.
  • 79 percent of child pedestrian deaths occur at non-intersection locations.
  • Other than in the street, young children are most commonly hit in driveways, parking lots and on sidewalks.
  • One in three child pedestrian deaths occur between 3 and 7 p.m.
  • Eight children died in school bus-related pedestrian crashes in 2007.
  • Almost two-thirds (62 percent) of childhood pedestrian deaths are males.
  • Black children have a pedestrian injury death rate almost twice that of white children (1.41 vs. 0.80 per 100,000 children in 2006).


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