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Teens and pedestrian safety: Why parents should be concerned

Here is a startling fact: Teenagers are at greatest risk when it comes to pedestrian-related death, with a death rate twice that of younger children.

How can this be? From the moment our children start to walk, we teach them the rules of how to cross a road. We hold their hands, tell them to look left, right and left again, and cross only when there are no cars coming. As they get older and get more freedom, we assume they’ll use everything we taught them to stay safe.

The cause is distraction! More teens are distracted while walking by cellphones, headphones and other devices than ever before. While they may know the rules of the road, they aren’t always focused on them and often don’t hear what’s going on around them. They are often unaware if a vehicle is approaching.

Follow these rules

So while we don’t hesitate to teach our younger kids how to cross the street, it’s time we take a moment to remind our teens of a few safety rules:

  • Put away your cellphone, take out your earbuds or headphones, and don’t look at other electronic devices when crossing the street.
  • Look left, right and left again before crossing the street, and continue looking until safely across.
  • Walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible.
  • Children under 10 need to cross the street with an adult. Every child is different, but developmentally, most kids are unable to judge the speed and distance of oncoming cars until age 10.
  • Be a good role model. Set a good example by putting your phone, headphones and devices down when walking around cars.

How to not get hit by a car

With an average of 44 kids getting hit while walking every day in the U.S., it’s time for action. Check out this fun interactive infographic that guides walkers through seven common ways kids get hit by cars, and seven ways to avoid it. Parents and kids alike give it great reviews. Not only do they think it’s fun to experience the action, they can usually relate to it. Try it out and see if you make any of the common mistakes when you cross the street.