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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Traffic Safety for Children 101

Here are the Most Common Ways Children Get In Harm’s Way in Traffic and How To Prevent Them from Happening

• A child darting out into street at corner or mid-block.
This type of accident usually happens in neighborhoods where children are at play. A ball might bounce into the street and a youngster chases after it. It is important to teach children that before retrieving a ball or any object in the street, they should ask an adult for help.

• Vehicle turning into path of a child.
Children often think that a green light or WALK signal means there’s no danger. Teach your child to be responsible and cautious no matter what signs or signals say.

• Child hidden from view by an ice cream truck.
When an ice cream truck passes by, anxious and excited children may forget about traffic and run into the street. Teach your child to never run into the street, no matter what the circumstances.

• Child hidden from view by a bus/driver does not stop.
Every state requires traffic in both directions to stop on undivided highways when students are entering or exiting a school bus. Children who must cross the street after exiting the bus should be taught to walk to the edge of the bus, look left-right-left, and cross when the road is clear and the bus driver has signaled it is safe to cross.

• Vehicle backing up in roadways, driveways, or parking lots.
It’s important to teach children to make sure that no one is in the driver’s seat and to look for illuminated back-up lights before walking in between parked cars. They should treat driveways like other intersections and stop at the edge, then look LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT for cars entering or exiting the driveway.

Preventing Pedestrian Crashes:

Parents and Caregivers of Preschool Children

You probably know that preschool children are fast and often are not aware of danger. Each year, too many children are injured or killed when they suddenly run into the paths of cars. This may seem obvious, but did you know that most preschoolers are injured near their homes, on their own streets or in their own driveways, and most traffic crashes involving preschoolers happen in good weather?

This Is How You Can Prevent These Tragedies:
• Children must be supervised at all times.
• Children should NEVER be allowed to cross the street alone.
• When crossing the street ALWAYS hold your child’s hand.
• Don’t let your driveway become a playground. If you do allow children in this area, only allow them to play there when there are no vehicles present.
• To further protect children playing on your driveway, separate the driveway from the roadway with a barrier to prevent any cars from entering.
• Make sure your children are properly supervised at all times, especially when near moving vehicles.
• Teach children to NEVER play in, around, or under vehicles - ever.
• Teach by explaining and be a role model.
• Demonstrate to your child the safe way you cross a street. Say, “When I cross a street, I always stop at the curb. I look and listen for cars. I look left for any traffic coming, and then I look right for traffic coming that way. Then I look left again for any traffic coming. When it is clear, I cross the street, and keep looking left and right and listening for cars coming.”
• You can also explain how to look and listen for vehicles where they may be backing up (out of a driveway, parking lot, on the street, etc). Say, “Sometimes I can hear trucks backing up because they make a loud beeping sound to warn me. I also can look for a car or truck moving backward, and I can look and see white lights in the back of the car that tell me the driver is getting ready to move backwards or is going backwards.”
• Point out to your child when you notice others using safe pedestrian and unsafe pedestrian behavior. This reinforces your message and is also helpful for visual learners.
• Always practice safe behavior. As an adult, your child watches and imitates your actions. He or she thinks that if you do the behavior, it must be correct.

When walking, always:
• Walk on the sidewalk, if one is available.
• Walk facing traffic if no sidewalk is available.
When crossing the street, always:
• Cross at a corner or crosswalk with the walk signal.
• Stop at the curb.
• Exaggerate looking LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT for traffic in all directions before and while crossing the street.
• Explain you are looking for either no traffic or that traffic has stopped before you can cross safely.
• Cross when it is clear.
• Hold your child’s hand when crossing the street.
• Keep looking for cars as you cross.
• As you both safely cross the street together, praise the child for copying your safe actions or words.
• Always practice what you teach.

Did you know that courses are available to educate drivers on the rules of the road and the latest defensive driving techniques? Try one now!

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The National Safety Commission, Inc.
PO Box 3359
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32004-3359

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