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Back to School: Protecting Children from Pedestrian Accidents

Now that the school year is in full swing, it is vital to instruct and remind children about traffic safety. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,280 pedestrians were killed and approximately 70,000 were injured in traffic accidents in 2010. Out of those pedestrians, children accounted for 7 percent of those killed and 23 percent of those injured. Residents of the Bay Area need to be especially cautious. The organization Transportation for America in its report “Dangerous by Design” ranked California 16 out of the 50 states in its Pedestrian Danger Index, and reported that in the San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont area from the years 2000-2009, 26.1 percent of all traffic fatalities were pedestrians. The NHTSA has launched a nationwide campaign entitled “Think Safe, Ride Safe, Be Safe” in order to equip children and adults with safety tips and to reduce child pedestrian fatalities and injuries. In its campaign, the NHTSA lists the following reasons why children are especially vulnerable to pedestrian accidents:

  • They are harder for drivers to see, especially when backing up.
  • They often act before thinking.
  • They do not accurately judge speed and distance of oncoming vehicles.
  • They often believe that if they can see the driver, the driver can see them.
  • They think cars can stop instantly.

The NHTSA also gives various instructions on how to protect children from pedestrian accidents, which include:

  • Children age ten and under must be supervised by an adult since they do not have the necessary skills to handle traffic situations alone.
  • Instruct children about basic safety principles with simple, clear explanations.
  • Model correct pedestrian safety behaviors for children.
  • Supervise young children constantly, even around parked cars or when playing in driveways.
  • Hold a child’s hand when crossing the street, while walking down streets and in parking lots.

Of course, drivers need to do their part as well in preventing pedestrian accidents. Drivers should reduce their speed and be especially vigilant in school zones and residential neighborhoods, especially from three to four p.m. when most accidents involving child pedestrians occur. Drivers should also be alert for children making traffic mistakes, such as crossing in the middle of the street instead of at the intersection. Drivers need to give their full attention to driving and should avoid distractions, particularly when children are present.

If your child is injured as a pedestrian in a traffic accident, you may want to consider filing a personal injury lawsuit against the driver for negligence. You may be able to recover costs for your child’s medical bills as well as other losses damages. It is wise to consult an experienced San Francisco pedestrian accident attorney who can explain your options and help you navigate the legal system.

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