Pedestrian safety for children

ch8_kidsChildren do not make good pedestrians. They are too distracted, too impulsive, too impatient, and they have no idea how fast vehicles can move, nor how dangerous they can be. The situation is compounded by the fact that many parents are not modelling good pedestrian behavior as they are not teaching children to be attentive when they cross the street, and often jay walk.
So many times I have seen parents, with headphones on, push stroller’s mid-block across the street with a motorist bearing down on them. Or stand on the street corner waiting to cross, engrossed in conversation on the phone or with a friend by their side, heedless of the fact that their small child is teetering on the curb, dangerously close to falling off and possibly being hit by passing vehicles.
So, while walking provides numerous benefits, it’s also highly dangerous if not done safely; the most dangerous place for pedestrians is the intersection:
Children absorb information like sponges absorb water, so parents need to set good examples and model safe pedestrian behavior if they want their child(ren) to grow up safe around vehicles.
The ICBC web site has lots of valuable information about pedestrian safety here:
Get back to the basics with these simple safety tips.

Look left-right-left and shoulder check before crossing. Make eye contact with drivers and keep looking for approaching vehicles while crossing.
Listen. Remove your headphones so you can hear approaching traffic that may be hard to see.
Be seen. Wear reflective materials or bright clothes and use lights after dark.
Walk on the inside edge of the sidewalk away from the road. If there’s no sidewalk – walk facing oncoming traffic, so you can see approaching vehicles.
Never jaywalk.

There is an excellent fact sheet you can print off and keep handy for your walks to school or to local shops. This is a great conversation starter for parents taking an active role in teaching junior, in a fun and simple way, how to commute safely.

Right turn drivers are often ignored by pedestrians, but in reality are highly dangerous as the driver is so focused on approaching vehicles and looking for space to merge onto the street, that they rarely look to see if pedestrians are waiting to cross. Always catch the eye of the right turn driver and indicate you will cross on the pedestrian or green light, so the motorist does not commence their right turn as you’re stepping off the curb. As you cross the street, keep an eye on traffic in all directions, and don’t be shy about communicating by raising your hand like a stop sign if you’re not sure a waiting motorist can see you and is aware that you’re crossing. By signaling drivers of your intent, and following established road rules, you not only gain more control over a potentially dangerous situation, but also the drivers’ respect.

Parking lots are also a highly dangerous place for children as motorists drive slowly and are often distracted: by the phone, looking for parking, looking for a shop, who knows?! Meanwhile, parents let their guard down in the chaos of exiting the vehicle and planning the list of errands they need to do. Since parking lots are designed for vehicles, there are few pedestrian safe places to walk and children are often unseen as they dart between stopped automobiles. Practicing pedestrian safety in the parking lot will not only keep your child alive, but set them up for success as a responsible pedestrian and future cyclist and motorist.

I’ve attached links to other helpful articles here:

Check back soon for information about “Safe Cycling”.

Written by Karon Trenaman