Whether you live in a big city, a suburban area or a small town, it’s important to start teaching your kids about pedestrian safety at a young age. Even if your kid takes the bus or you drop them off at school every day, all children need to know how to keep themselves safe while walking down the street or crossing at an intersection.
Moving vehicles are one of the biggest threats to a child’s safety. Teaching your child about pedestrian safety early on can help decrease the likelihood that your kid will be involved in a crash as a pedestrian.
Pedestrian safety tips for elementary school children
Elementary school children are at the greatest risk for being involved in a vehicle-pedestrian crash. This is due to the fact that, compared to adults, young children have a narrower field of vision, have a harder time determining the direction of sounds and cannot always judge the speed or distance of a moving vehicle.
Additionally, elementary school children are more at risk for pedestrian dangers because they get distracted easily. Their smaller size also makes it more difficult for drivers to spot them. Young children might be hidden behind bushes, parked cars or other objects — which can catch drivers off-guard.
General guidelines for keeping kids safe on the street
Here are some ways you can keep your children safe as pedestrians:
- With young children, hold their hand when you are near traffic or a in high-traffic area
- Children under age 10 shouldn’t cross the street on their own. Always cross with them and don’t let them walk or run ahead of you or follow behind.
- When getting in and out of the car, make sure your children get out curbside. Make this a habit for your family.
- At dusk and in the early morning hours, make sure your child is wearing reflective clothing or a bright-colored safety vest. In the evening, have your child carry a flashlight.
- Make sure your kid plays outside only in designated areas, such as playgrounds or a fenced-in backyard. Don’t let your kids play in driveways, the streets, parking lots or parking garages.
Teaching your child to become a smart and street-wise pedestrian
As your children get older, you can’t be with them at all times to keep them safe. Being a proactive parent and teaching your kid ‘street-smarts’ could help prevent them from getting in a serious pedestrian-vehicle accident and could even save your child’s life. Here are a few ways to teach your kids about pedestrian safety:
- Teach your children how to cross the street safely. Make them wait for the crosswalk signal and don’t jaywalk.
- If there are no sidewalks, pedestrians should walk on the left side of the road. Teach kids to walk far on the left, away from traffic.
- Before crossing the street, make sure your kid looks both ways and is really paying attention. Make sure they notice approaching vehicles and listen for the sounds of cars.
- When crossing a bus, children should walk at least 10 feet in front of the vehicle. Kids should never cross behind the bus.
- Before crossing the street, kids should wait until the car comes to a complete stop. Drivers don’t always pay attention to traffic signs, so children should be extra aware and alert when crossing in an intersection.
- Talk to your kid about distracted drivers and pedestrians. Don’t let your teenager walk around busy streets with earbuds in or with their nose buried in their smartphone. Also, remind them that not all drivers are paying attention, which is why they should be especially careful at major intersections.
Practicing street safety also includes noticing all moving vehicles on the roadway and sidewalks, such as bikes, skateboards and scooters. The best way to increase your child’s safety is to teach them how to be cautious and street-smart pedestrians.