watch for little pedestrians Parents, get out the sunblock and sprinklers because summer vacation is almost here. Soon, kids will start spending much of the long summer days biking, swimming and playing outside. But with this communitywide shift in schedules, motorists and parents alike will have to get used to an increased pedestrian presence throughout the day. And more than any other time of year, it will be important to double-check for little pedestrians whenever and wherever you’re driving.

Trauma Season

In the medical industry, summer is frequently referred to as “trauma season.” With kids (and adults) heading outdoors to participate in sports and other physical activities, the Department of Transportation (DOT) notes a 16 percent spike in child pedestrian deaths each summer, with many more accidents resulting in serious injuries. Specifically, teenagers are now most at risk with a death rate twice that of younger children and accounting for half of all child pedestrian deaths.

The Facts:

  • In 2013, one-fifth of child traffic fatalities were pedestrians.
  • Of the estimated 66,000 injured pedestrians in 2013 traffic crashes, 10,000 were children.
  • Teens are at greatest risk; 47 percent of children who died while walking in 2013 were 15-19 years of age.
  • In 2013, 78 percent of child pedestrian deaths occurred at nonintersection locations.
  • Children in lower-income neighborhoods are 5.7 times more likely to be injured as pedestrians than children in other neighborhoods.

Luckily, there are distinct patterns to summertime pedestrian accidents, all of which can be easily avoided. Children are often hard to see, are more likely to make unsafe decisions and behave unpredictably. However, it is the responsibility of all motorists to watch for children, especially during the summer. Please take a moment to read and share these summer safety tips with your friends and family, and try to drive as if each pedestrian is a loved one.

Five tips for avoiding child pedestrian accidents:

  1. Pay attention. Always watch the side of the road for hazards, including children who may dart into traffic. Parents: Teach kids to look left, right and left again before crossing the street.
  2. Reduce distractions. Teach kids, especially teens, to put phones, headphones and other devices down when crossing the street. Alternatively, drivers should remove all distractions when driving.
  3. Don’t expect kids to follow the law. Young children who don’t drive do not understand “right of way” and can’t judge speed or distance. Remind kids that it’s best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners using traffic signals and crosswalks. If there are no sidewalks, they should walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. 
  4. Obey the speed limit. Most child pedestrian accidents often occur because the driver was going too fast to stop when the child entered the road. Slow down, especially near parks and playgrounds or in residential areas.
  5. Look twice before backing up. In the U.S., at least fifty children are backed over by vehicles EVERY week. Be aware of your vehicle’s blind spots and always check for children before getting in your vehicle.

If you or a loved one has been hit by a vehicle, your first step is to seek medical attention for any injuries. Then, it’s a good idea to talk with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and make sure you get the compensation you need to care for yourself and your family after an injury.

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Jill Erin Wellskopf
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Director of Marketing, Hupy and Abraham