Younger children usually don't have the ability to make safe judgments about traffic because they aren't developmentally ready to make good choices on their own. It is not their intelligence that is in question, say child development specialists, but rather their level of thinking and physical coordination. Children may not be able to judge whether a situation is safe or react appropriately in an emergency, especially when they are nervous or scared.
This is why proper supervision for children is so important. Younger children should be accompanied by adults or older children whenever they cross the street or ride their bikes. Even if you feel your child has the intelligence to do these activities alone, in reality they may not be developmentally ready to do so.
When: Most child pedestrian-related injuries occur in September and October, followed by May and June. Crashes are most common during the late afternoon and early evening. This is probably because drivers are adjusting to decreased daylight and are less likely to see a pedestrian crossing the road. It may also be due to the fact that children are out and about at this time of the day, walking home from school or perhaps playing outside after dinner.
Where: Statistically, children are more likely to get struck by a car while crossing at an intersection followed by running into the road. Children are also vulnerable when they cross the road at uncontrolled intersections, when they enter the road between parked cars or walk on the road instead of the sidewalk.
The majority of child pedestrian injuries and deaths occur in urban areas, however, when a pedestrian is hit on a rural road, the result is more likely to be fatal because of higher vehicle speeds. Studies have also shown that lower income urban neighborhoods have a higher incidence of pedestrian-related injuries.
Why: Most often, crashes are caused by a combination of driver behaviour and pedestrian behaviour. However, factors such as heavy traffic volumes, a high density of parked cars, higher posted speed limits, and limited choices for play also contribute to the number of pedestrian injuries.
Walk with your child and talk with them about pedestrian safety! These top five tips will help you show your child how to cross the street safely:
High speed is often a factor in crashes involving pedestrians. Speed affects how often pedestrians get hit and how severely they are injured. When cars are travelling at speeds greater than 30-40 km/h the response time of drivers and pedestrians is impacted. For example, drivers may miscalculate the time it takes to come to a stop, while pedestrians may miscalculate the time needed to safely cross the road. A pedestrian who is struck by a car travelling at 50 km/h has a greater chance of being killed than a pedestrian struck by a car travelling at 30 km/h. Reducing vehicle speed is proven to prevent crashes and reduce the severity of injuries.
Traffic calming is intended to reduce vehicle speeds, discourage traffic volume and/or minimize conflicts between street users. Traffic calming works to reduce injuries in a particular geographical area due to changes in the structure of the area.
Speed bumps on residential streets and reducing the posted speed limits are perhaps the most common example of traffic calming. Measures such as raised crosswalks and rumble strips create a physical barrier on the road, forcing cars to slow down. Other traffic calming measures include sidewalk extensions, curb extensions and traffic circles.
For further information on traffic calming and ways you can work to implement traffic calming measures in your community, please see Pedestrian Safety.
There are many different ways to advocate for change and you can find lots of ideas and information specific to pedestrian safety on the Public Policy section of the website.