FriendshipAs the summer comes to an end, kids are going to be heading back to school. This means all of the drivers near school zones will see an increase in pedestrian traffic in the mornings and afternoons. As drivers, we’re reminded to slow down by signs in the school zone that mark the speed limit at 20 mph, but pedestrians may not always be aware of how to stay safe with the morning rush hour traffic. In this post, we received tips and advice on pedestrian safety from Dr. Alex Quistberg with the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center.

Walking is a safe activity for youth. For 5-14 year old youth, the fatal injury rate per 100 million person-trips is 4.5 while walking and 2.8 while in a passenger vehicle (this does not account for accompanied/unaccompanied walking) and the non-fatal injury rate is 255.2 vs. 453.2 in a passenger vehicle. This means that many more will be injured while riding in a vehicle, though if you are a pedestrian hit by a car, the accident is more likely to be fatal.

For older youth, 15-24 years old, the fatal rate while walking is 12.4 vs 21.3 in a passenger vehicle. The non-fatal rate for walking in this age group is 287.3 vs. 1934.4 in a passenger vehicle.

The here is the link to the top community resource for info on pedestrian safety. It summarizes evidence, provides tools for planning safety communities and how to take action. It is largely focused on engineering and urban design improvements that can improve pedestrian and bike safety. Safe Routes to School is an excellent resource for school travel safety and focuses on both engineering and behavioral changes to improve safety. Safe Kids is another good resource on pedestrian safety.

Here is a summary of tips for both pedestrian and driver safety:

For youth, the key safety behaviors as a pedestrian are:

-Don’t walk distracted – this could be cell phone/media device use (talking, texting, music, etc), including headphone use.
-When it’s dark out, be sure to be visible to drivers when crossing the road since you will likely not be visible to them
-Obey traffic signals when present
-Don’t jaywalk
-Be sure to get the driver’s attention when crossing and that they see you

For parents:
-Drive carefully and at a low speed in school zones
-Model good traffic safety behaviors for children (no distracted driving/walking, seatbelt use, walk/bike with kids)