It’s wonderful when our kids get to explore their independence by exploring their neighbourhood. But statistically, a child’s greatest risk of injury is death is from a car collision. Keeping all kids safe on our streets is about both how we choose to drive, and what we teach our children. Here’s how you can help prevent avoidable collisions between cars and children—whether you’re the driver, or your child is the pedestrian.
Drivers: remember that cars can be weapons
As the people behind the wheel of the car, the responsibility rests primarily on drivers to not hit and kill the people around them.
- A pedestrian hit by a car travelling 50 km/hr is eight times more likely to be killed than a pedestrian struck at 30 km/hr.
- For each 1.6 km reduction in average speed, collision frequency is reduced by five percent.
- Reducing vehicle speed has been proven to be effective in preventing crashes and reducing the severity of injuries.
- At a speed of 30 km/hr, drivers have sufficient time to stop for pedestrians.
Drive with hyper awareness
- Expect children to act unpredictably and be prepared to stop quickly.
- If you see someone at a corner, assume they may cross and be prepared to stop.
- Remember, all intersections are crosswalks, whether they’re marked or not.
- Consider not turning right on red—collisions with pedestrians often happen this way.
- If you do turn right on red, remember, you’re not just looking for cars, you’re also looking for the more vulnerable pedestrian who’s crossing with the right of way on a green light.
Teach your children to be defensive pedestrians
- Since our children have no control over how safely the drivers around them drive, they unfortunately have to learn to be defensive pedestrians. They have to learn tactics and strategies that will help them avoid a collision with an inattentive driver.
- Teach kids to have a healthy fear of cars and drivers—to always exercise caution.
- Teach kids to not assume cars will stop. Just because there’s a stop sign, or you’re in a legal crosswalk doesn’t mean the driver will notice and stop.
- Kids shouldn’t begin to cross until car traffic has completely stopped.
- When kids are crossing on a green light, remind them to look over their left shoulder to make sure drivers turning right are paying attention and allowing them to cross safely.
- Accompany your kids on walks so you can point out the right and wrong way to safely interact on streets.
Discussions and demonstrations of safe pedestrian travel, in a variety of situations, will help kids be more independent while making better decisions. Accompany your children on walks:
- when weather conditions change (e.g. snow, fog, sleet, rain)
- when taking, or deciding on, a new route to school or the playground
- when visiting a new place
- when moving to a new neighbourhood
- when it’s a child’s first time walking with friends