School's Out - Watch Out

School's Out - Watch Out

Pedestrians cross the street
Cheryl Gouker

People of all ages – from the youngest to the oldest – enjoy walking for leisure, exercise or even as part of their commute, which is why pedestrian safety is so important. Now that the school year has ended, drivers should look out for and expect an increase of exuberant young people walking, cycling, skating, and more.

Did You Know?

  • Eighty percent of child pedestrian deaths occur at non-intersection locations
  • Developmentally, kids cannot judge speed and distance of approaching vehicles until age 10

Pedestrian fatalities account for a significant percentage of all traffic related fatalities. AAA believes that consumer education is a key component of a comprehensive pedestrian program that includes helping walkers get to their destinations safely. School is out! Children will do what they do – run, jump and play – without a forethought about the consequences of darting into the street. Watch out for teens and tweens distracted by technology. It is commonplace to see kids walking while wearing headphones/ear buds or interacting with their phone or device It’s important that we all slow down and be mindful of increased risk of playgrounds and parks, maintaining safe speed limits and keeping safety top of mind.

Teach Kids How to Walk Safely

  • Teach kids at an early age to look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Then remind them to continue looking until safely across.
  • It’s always best to walk on sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. If there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible. 
  • Teach kids to make eye contact with drivers before crossing the street.
  • Children under 10 need to cross the street with an adult. Every child is different, but developmentally, most kids are unable to judge the speed and distance of oncoming cars until age 10.
  • Encourage kids to be especially alert for cars that are turning or backing up.
  • Teach kids not to run or dart out into the street or cross between parked cars.
  • If kids are walking when it’s dark out, teach them to be especially alert and make sure they are visible to drivers. Have them wear light- or brightly-colored clothing and reflective gear. 

Take Action Against Distraction

  • Teach kids to put phones, headphones and devices down when crossing the street. It is particularly important to reinforce the message with teenagers.
  • Pull headphones down or turn off the volume before crossing the street.
  • Be aware of others who may be distracted and speak up when you see someone who is in danger.
  • If kids need to use a cell phone, teach them to stop walking and find a safe area to talk.

Let Your Actions Speak as Loudly as Your Words

  • Be a good role model. Set a good example by putting your phone, headphones and devices down when walking around cars.
  • When driving, put cell phones and other distractions in the back seat or out of sight until your final destination.
  • Be especially alert and slow down when driving in residential neighborhoods and school zones. Be on the lookout for bikers, walkers or runners who may be distracted or may step into the street unexpectedly.
  • Give pedestrians the right of way and look both ways when making a turn to spot any bikers, walkers or runners who may not be immediately visible.