Its summertime and kids are outside playing. Suddenly, the sound of screeching tires fills the air. Everyone stops to look. Luckily, an alert driver stopped in time and did not hit the child who ran into the street.
This driver was focused, but what about drivers who are distracted? Could this scenario have had a different, more tragic ending – one that involved paramedics rushing to the scene to save a child? Or might the scenario involve a parents worst nightmare – police coming to his or her door to inform them that their child has been badly injured or killed?
In recent years, there has been a national focus on the dangers of distracted driving in the form of cellphone use and texting and driving. Unfortunately, many drivers dont think about the other forms of distracted driving, including conversations with passengers; grooming; preparing, eating or spilling food; reaching for something; adjusting the music controls; even reading.
Since 2001, nearly 15,500 children ages 14 and younger have been injured as pedestrians each year. While the number of fatalities has decreased, pedestrian injury remains the second-leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages 5 to 14. Seventy-four percent of child pedestrian deaths occur at non-intersection locations.
What can parents do to prevent their child from becoming one of these statistics? Parents are encouraged to teach their children safety rules such as crossing the street at corners that have signals and crosswalks. Teach children to look left, right, left before crossing the street and to continue to look both ways while crossing. Children who are younger than 10 should never cross the street alone. Parents should hold childrens hands in parking lots and while crossing the street. Tell children never to run into the street for any reason. They should not chase a ball, a pet or anything else.
Children should use sidewalks and paths. If there are no sidewalks, the child should face oncoming traffic and stay to the left. Children also need to watch for cars that are turning or backing up.
Most importantly, parents need to set a good example for their children by following these few rules. As drivers, we all need to focus our attention on driving so as to avoid hitting a child who darts into the street.
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