True story: When I was in second grade, me and my two cousins, who were brother and sister, went to the same elementary school, about 5 blocks from our home. Ryan was two years older than his sister Jenny and usually, we all walked home together. On this particular day, I went home at the usual time while they stayed after school. Some time later, while I was playing in the front room, Jenny came running into the house, screaming that her brother had just been hit by a car. The woman who hit him was not only drunk, but completely disregarded the crossing guard’s stop sign. Ryan was lucky and came out of it with only a broken leg and a few missing teeth. But not all kids are as fortunate.
Overall, the number of pedestrian related deaths in kids and teens has dropped significantly over the last 20 years. However, accidents and fatalities involving kids and teens are back on the rise. There are two primary reasons for this. One is distracted and careless kids. The other is distracted and careless drivers. Here are just a few of the alarming statistics:
- There are 5 teen pedestrian deaths every week in the United States
- Teens aged 15-19 made up about half of all pedestrian fatalities in 2015
- Unsafe street crossing was behavior was observed in 80% of the students
- Teens are most likely to be distracted with headphones or texting
These statistics are scary and so easily avoidable. As a parent, I worry about almost every aspect of my kids’ lives. Their safety to and from school is one of those big worries. Last year, the school district I live in changed their transportation policy and drastically restricted their bus services. Suddenly, thousands of parents who relied on the school’s bus service to get their kids safely to and from school, had to find a new solution. Some parents are able to drive their kids themselves or have help doing so. But for many others like myself, we don’t have that option. I’m lucky enough in one respect that my son is old enough to ride his bike to school by himself and to pick up his younger sister afterwards. But the worry remains. Even though my son is responsible and attentive, so many other kids and drivers aren’t.
For this study, messages were implemented on the curbs for pedestrians and with signs near the pick up/drop off lanes for drivers, reading “Heads Up, Phones Down.” These simple words caused a significant decrease in the number of distracted kids and drivers. Here are some ways you can help keep every kid, not just yours, safe:
- When driving in a school zone, or anywhere for that matter, please slow down and be patient.
- Observe and follow speed limits.
- Don’t ignore school bus signs or crossing guards. They’re there for good reason!
- Teach your kids the dangers of distracted walking. It’s really not any different than distracted driving, and no text is worth someone’s life!
- Be a good example with your own attentive driving. Put down the phone, turn down the music and pay attention.
- Take action with your kids’ schools. If you notice insufficient crosswalks, crossing guards or speed limit signs, speak up!
The Safe Kids Website, who also partners with FedEx Cares, is full of more safety tips and ideas for keeping your kids safe. The site also includes safety information on a wide variety of topics like bike safety, car seats, medications, fireworks, playground safety, water safety, teen drivers, toys, sleep and many more. Don’t wait until an accident occurs to start playing it safe!