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Talking to your kids about pedestrian safety

August 14, 2013

We’ve all heard them before. And if you’re a parent, admit it. You’ve probably said them at least a few times by now:

“Don’t run with scissors!”

“Always wear a helmet!”

“Look both ways before crossing the street!”

While all are important lessons for children to learn, parents living in Central Florida should pay especially close attention to that last one.

The dangers of Central Florida roads

According to a 2011 report by Transportation for America, the top four most dangerous cities for pedestrians are located in Florida. Number one is, you guessed it, the Orlando metropolitan area. According to the report, there were 557 pedestrian deaths in the Orlando-Kissimmee area between 2000 and 2009. This number translates to three out of every 100,000 pedestrians dying in traffic-related incidents each year. When you take into account the low amount of pedestrian traffic the area has, these numbers become both staggering and frightening.

More surprising, perhaps, is that a recent analysis conducted by the Orlando Sentinel indicates that a majority of pedestrian injuries reported since 2007 have been the fault of the pedestrians themselves. While dangerous motor vehicle habits such as texting while driving, or driving under the influence, are proven causes for concern, pedestrians themselves should know that their actions, too, could put their own lives, or the lives of those around them, in danger.

Staying safe on the road

With the first day of school in many counties right around the corner, it’s extra important that local kids know the safest practices available when walking to and from school, or the bus stop. Walk their route ahead of time to find the safest way to go, and encourage them to take note of the following suggestions. Whether they are walking, or are old enough to drive, these tips are important to keep our roadways safe for everyone.

Always cross at designated crosswalks. Drivers are required to yield to you at these locations in most circumstances, making it a safer and more expected place for pedestrians to be.

Use the sidewalk whenever you can. Sidewalks are safer for pedestrians, but are sometimes unavailable. When you cannot use a sidewalk, walk on the street facing traffic, and always pay attention to driver behavior.

Make yourself visible at night. Most pedestrian deaths occur in the evening, or overnight hours, when visibility is lower. If you must walk in the dark, bring a flashlight, or wear reflective clothing, so that drivers can see you before it’s too late.

Be predictable. Stay off of major highways, don’t make any sudden or unpredictable movements when cars are coming, and stick to areas where you are legally allowed to walk.

When driving, be wary of pedestrians who are under the influence. 33% of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. have been directly related to pedestrian intoxication. Be on alert if you see a pedestrian walking in an uneven manner, as he or she may not be aware of your presence.

What other tips have you given kids for staying safe on the roads?