Pedestrian safety

Walk Safe PSA

Parachute has developed a Walk Safe PSA as one of a series of three animated 30-second public service announcements: Walk Safe, Bike Safe, and Play Safe.  The Walk Safe PSA incorporates evidence-based key messaging and has been produced in four languages: English, French, Chinese and Punjabi.  The primary audience is Canadian families, especially those new to Canada.  You are welcome to share these PSAs through your own social media networks and websites. 

The Walk Safe PSAs can be viewed in Punjabi, French and Chinese at the below links:


Injuries to pedestrians are often severe. Although the majority of children survive being hit by a car, they are often left with long-term disabilities such as permanent damage related to head, organ and bone injuries. Pedestrian injuries often have high economic and societal costs. Research shows that some of the highest risk factors for pedestrian injury include driver speed, risky child behaviour, lack of adult supervision, and crossing the street at a spot without traffic controls.

What works to reduce child pedestrian injuries?

Reduce traffic speeds. At speeds greater than 30-40 km/h, both drivers and pedestrians may be more likely to make mistakes in judging the time required to stop or cross the street safely.1

Group of people standing beside a speed bumpIn addition, drivers are known to underestimate their speed.2  Reducing vehicle speed has proven to be effective in preventing crashes and reducing the severity of injuries.1

Even small reductions in vehicle speed can yield significant reductions in injury risk. It is estimated that a pedestrian struck by a car travelling at 50 km/h is eight times more likely to be killed than someone hit at 30 km/h.3

Teach pedestrian safety. Encourage parents to teach and demonstrate pedestrian safety to their children. Adults should begin talking to children about pedestrian safety as soon as they begin walking with their children, and they should continue doing so until the early teenage years. It is crucial that adults talk to children about what is going on around them while they are walking – especially since the simple presence of parents or caregivers may help reduce the risk of injury. 4

Discussions about and demonstrations of safe crossing behaviours, in a variety of situations, will enable children to make more independent decisions about road crossings and safe pedestrian travel.5

Child pedestrian education should be based on children’s development, which changes dramatically from seven to 14 years of age. Education needs to adapt to reflect these changes.

Make communities more walkable. Recent research in the United States and Europe shows a link between communities that are conducive to walking and fewer pedestrian injuries.6 These communities have environments that promote walking by making routes attractive (e.g., trees and trails) and safe (e.g., sidewalks and crosswalks).

Risks of using cellphones while crossing the street

Preliminary research conducted with children 10 and 11 years of age at the University of Alabama in Birmingham shows that children have an increased risk of being struck or nearly struck by a vehicle by up to one third while using a cellphone. The children walked through simulated road crossings in an interactive virtual pedestrian environment. Results showed that children’s pedestrian safety was compromised when distracted by a cellphone conversation. While distracted, they were less attentive to traffic, they left less safe time between their crossing and the next arriving vehicle, and they experienced more collisions and close calls with oncoming traffic. Researchers also believe that other distractions while crossing the street such as listening to music, text messaging, and talking to peers could also increase the odds of risky pedestrian behavior.7


1 World Health Organization. World report on road traffic injury prevention. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2004.
2 Harre N. Discrepancy between actual and estimated speeds of drivers in the presence of child pedestrians. Inj Prev 2003;9(1):38-41.
3 World Health Organization. Safer roads: five key areas for effective interventions; 2004 [cited 2009 Apr 15].
4 Roberts I. Adult accompaniment and the risk of pedestrian injury on the school-home journey. Inj Prev 1995;1:242-4.
5 Duperrex O, Bunn F, Roberts I. Safety education of pedestrians for injury prevention: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. BMJ 2002;324(7346):1129.
6 Jacobsen PL. Safety in numbers: more walkers and bicyclists, safer walking and bicycling. Inj Prev 2003;9:205-9.

7 Stavrinos D, Byington KW, Schwebel DC. Effect of cell phone distraction on pediatric pedestrian injury risk. Pediatrics 2009;123(2):e179-85.

Related Content

Canada Walks 

Child pedestrian injuries report: 2007-2008

Personal Security and Safe Routes to School