Driving, dating, too much screen time: these are common talking points in households with older children and teenagers. But pedestrian safety? Isn’t that something everyone learned in kindergarten?
The belief that some safety skills are mastered in elementary school could be why pre-teens and teenagers say they hear less about safety from their parents than when they were younger. Parents might assume that their older children know how to use sidewalks and roadways safely, but research is showing a spike in pedestrian injuries in the past few years. Teens interact with traffic differently than young children, meaning they need a different set of reminders to be safe.
Data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration shows that teen pedestrians are more likely than younger children to be injured or killed by a vehicle, but many teens don’t realize that they ARE at risk—about five teens a week are killed and hundreds more are injured. Make a point to talk to your teens and older children about walking safely. Here are some tips to start the conversation.
Be engaged: When you are getting ready to cross the street, pause music and stop talking or texting. Look up and pay attention to what is going on around you.
Follow the rules: Follow traffic signals and cross streets only at intersections, not mid-street. When you follow the rules, drivers know what you are going to do.
Wait and see: Try to make eye contact with drivers and wait until you know what drivers are planning to do before you step into the street. Do not assume that drivers will drive safety or are paying attention.
Learn more about teen pedestrian safety, especially as activities like walking to school begin soon, at https://www.preventchildinjury.org/toolkits/teen-ped-safety.