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Kids and Distracted Walking

Distracted TeenNow that school is back in session, it is important to teach children good safety behavior while walking to and from school. Kids often do not think about the consequences of their actions and one bad decision can have horrible consequences.

A 2015 Pew Research report found that 73% of 13-to 17-year-olds have their own smartphone or access to one, and 24 percent said they were online “almost constantly.” According to a study by The Nielsen Company, kids age 13 to 17 send more than 3,400 texts a month.

In a 2016 study by Safe Kids Worldwide called Alarming Dangers in School Zones, researchers observed middle and high school students crossing the street in a school zone. They found that 80 percent of students were crossing the street in an unsafe manner. The kids crossed the street against the light, they did not cross at designated crossing areas, and they did not look before crossing the road. The distracted teens were most likely to be wearing headphones (44 percent) or texting (31 percent).

Safekids.org states that nearly 60 kids under the age of 19 are hit by cars every day in the U.S. The data shows that 1 in 4 high school students and 1 in 6 middle school students are distracted while walking. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that one in five teens die each week while walking.

Of the 484 pedestrians ages 19 and younger who died after being hit by a motor vehicle in 2013, 47 percent were age 15 to 19, according to Injury Facts 2015. It was also reported that 16,000 pedestrians 19 and younger were injured in 2013 – that's 44 per day.

Here are some safety tips that parents can use when teaching their children how to walk safely:

  • Talk to your kids about how to be safe while walking.
  • Tell your kids to always walk on sidewalks.
  • Tell your kids to use crosswalks and traffic signals to cross the street, if available.
  • Tell your kids to never walk while texting or talking on the phone.
  • Tell your kids to never cross the street while using an electronic device.
  • Tell your kids to not walk with headphones on.
  • Tell your kids to be aware of their surroundings at all times.
  • Teach your kids to always look left, right, and then left again before crossing the street.
  • Remind kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street and to watch out for cars that are turning or backing up.

Distracted walking does pose a serious threat to kids and others on the street. Distracted walking can cause serious injuries and deaths, which are preventable. Please do your part to prevent these needless pedestrian fatalities – put the phone down – your calls, texts, emails, and social media updates can wait until you have crossed the road or are in safe place. Help ensure that it is a safe school year.