Vehicles hitting child pedestrians are responsible for more than 600 child fatalities every year. In 2014, 40,000 children sustained non-fatal injuries as pedestrians hit by vehicles. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 20 percent of children under the age of 15 killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians in 2015. When children survive these accidents, they may sustain life-changing physical or cognitive impairment.
Today, we are in our quarantine locations and limitations. We know that four more weeks will make us a bit squirrely and will certainly make children more eager to be outside and with their friends. When this pandemic is over – and it will be – children will return to their normal spring and summer activities. They will be walking to visit friends, walking dogs, delivering newspapers, going to parks and returning to sports activities. They will be more vulnerable.
- Teen pedestrians are twice as likely to die in an accident than younger children. They account for approximately half of all child pedestrian deaths.
- Young boys suffer more than half of US child pedestrian fatalities.
- Children with cognitive or attention deficits are at greater risk.
When children are hit by cars, these are the most common ways they become injured.
- Back-over accidents. Children are hit by drivers backing over them while leaving a parking space or a driveway. Unfortunately, these accidents often involve relatives, neighbors, or family friends.
- Both distracted driving and distracted walking may contribute to these accidents. We know that distracted driving causes many accidents. When anyone has shifted focus from what is happening around them to some device or activity, an accident can happen.
- Drunk drivers. The CDC estimates that as much as 15 percent of fatal pedestrian accidents involve drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 (the legal limit) or higher. Alcohol distorts our sense of time and motion, causes us to react slowly, and jeopardizes our movements when we try to respond to danger. As we move into summer, and longer days, many children will be out in their yards or neighborhoods later in the evening.
- School zone and play zone accidents. These areas are particularly dangerous for children. Children disobey safety signs and traffic signals. Drivers fail to reduce their speed or did not come to a full stop at an intersection.
- Afternoon and Evening accidents. The hours between 12:00 pm and 6:00 pm are peak times for pedestrian-involved accidents. People are returning home from their day’s activities and rushing to dinner or to evening activities.
- Rural roads and between intersections. Children likely do not have the experience to estimate the speed and distance of a car down the road. When there are no sidewalks or when children habitually cross between intersections, many drivers will not see them until it is too late to stop. In fact, 80 percent of child pedestrian deaths occur at locations between intersections.
What you can do to reduce the number of child pedestrian accidents:
- Work with your neighborhood, town, or community to take steps to encourage drivers to be more aware of the presence of children and to adjust their driving accordingly.
- Work with your elected officials to ensure that penalties for dangerous driving are significant and enforced.
- Spend some time with your children or with neighborhood children you know well. Help them understand basic safety steps to protect themselves.
All of us at Altizer Law, P.C., share the pain when a child is injured. If you or a loved one needs legal advice or representation, call us. We are here to help.