Teaching Your Child Pedestrian Safety

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

As adults, much of our knowledge around street safety seems second nature, but for kids and teenagers, the street can be distracting, resulting in potential danger. In 2011, injury data indicated that 55% of children struck were elementary school age from southeast DC and the surrounding areas. Teaching your children how to be safe as pedestrians, especially in busy cities, allows them to safely manage the day-to-day noises and interactions wherever they go. 

Here are five tips that can help your children stay safe and prepare for threats that they may encounter as a pedestrian.

  • Teach children to pay attention by looking left, right, and left again when crossing the street. Always stop at the curb and explain the consequences of not paying close attention so that they understand what is expected of them as pedestrians.
  • Set an example for your kids by abiding by traffic signs at all times and using crosswalks and crossing indicators to teach your child when it’s safe to cross the street. Teach kids under 10 to use their senses to watch, wait, and listen for passing cars. Kids under 10 should always cross the street with an adult, as they may not be able to determine the speed of passing cars. Always walk when crossing the street.
  • Always use the sidewalk. If there’s no sidewalk, always walk facing traffic and as far to the left as possible. Wear bright colors or reflectors at night. Make sure preteens are always looking up from their phones and devices especially when crossing the street.
  • Teach your kids how to watch and interact safely with cars. This means not allowing them to run or dart in front of moving cars whether the cars are backing up, parking, or turning in parking lots, yards, and driveways. Many children are struck because cars failed to see them. Making eye contact and visibly waving at the driver before crossing in front of a car will help with a safe crossing. 
  • Make street safety interactive. As you walk, ask your child what they would do in certain situations, like using the crosswalk for example, and let them explain in their own words. This shows that they understand the boundaries of pedestrian safety. 
    Sally Wilson is the Education, Prevention and Outreach Coordinator for the Division of Trauma and Burn at Children’s National. Sally specializes in injury prevention and holds over 40 years in nursing, including pediatrics, neonatal, and pediatric critical care. 


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