As parents, we should help our children strive to be active and safe. Walking can help reinforce good behaviors for both subjects. Be a role model and teach your children safe ways to be a pedestrian, and encourage walking as an exercise.
Here are some ways to promote pedestrian safety for your family:
Set family rules
- Age limits: Children under the age of 10 are not recommended to walk alone. The learning curve for interpreting traffic can vary, however, so make sure you have confidence in your child before they are responsible for the majority of their safety as pedestrians.
- Clear corners: Be sure you are visible as a pedestrian by avoiding corners hidden by bushes, trees, large signs, or similar.
- Listen up: Your ears can help alert you to cars you cannot see yet. Stay alert and quiet around roadways and crosswalks. Young children should not listen to music or talk on phones as pedestrians.
- Outdoor outfit: If your children often play around dusk, or if they walk alone to school or a friend’s home, find reflective materials to add to their outfits so they are obviously visible to drivers. Flashlights can serve as a pedestrian headlight to alert drivers.
- Hold hands: When walking through parking lots, using sidewalks, or standing near moving vehicles, keep firm hold of each child’s hand. Make sure you wait to cross any potential traffic areas until you are positive all drivers have seen you, being sure to check behind your shoulder.
- Sidewalks only: Designated sidewalks are much safer for everyone. But, if it an absolute necessity and your family has discussed the process, it is safer for children to walk facing traffic than for a car to approach their backs.
Walking to school
If your child lives at a distance and in an area where walking to school is plausible and safe, it is a good idea to organize a group of walkers. Adults can take turns supervising a smaller group of children from a neighborhood. Children should practice the route with their parents to identify risk crosswalks or streets, select spots to stop and look for cars, and where to go for help if anything happens. If you are able to organize a walking group, let the school administration know about it so adults are aware of the children’s planned routes.
Here is a site with some more information about initiatives and resources to get started: http://www.walkinginfo.org/
Here is a guide from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/kidswalk/pdf/kidswalk.pdf
In your driveway
As a driver and supervisor, you can help make a driveways and neighborhood roads a safe place for all children.
- Walk a circle around your car before getting in the driver’s seat, glancing near tires and under vehicle. Watch for toys that may attract a child nearby to the area around your car, and move the item out of sight or far away from your driving path.
- Walk with young children to and from the car to a safe area out of your driving path.
- If your children use driveways, coul-de-sacs or other areas that drivers may enter, use cones or signs to signify that children play in that area. These materials should be visible enough to deter or stop a car from entering the space.
- Pick a spot near your house, garage or yard that can serve as a “Safe Zone.” Select a place by any of the areas your children may play that is near to cars, making sure it is a close distance and does not require crossing any roadways or driveways. If it is a fair distance back from any moving vehicles, it can be the spot to hurry over to if your child is to hear an approaching car.
On the roadway
- Scan both directions for pedestrians, glancing left, right, then left again. Always yield at pedestrians in crosswalks, even if it is unmarked. Don’t forget to yield when making turns at intersections.
- Never block crosswalks when parking.
- Stay alert and off your cellphone, especially on city roads.
- Drive in enough control to stop for pedestrians, and never pass a vehicle that has stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross.
For more information:
Does your family walk together? What makes it fun and how do you stay safe?
University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital is consistently ranked one of the best hospitals in the country. It was nationally ranked in all ten pediatric specialties in U.S. News Media Group’s “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” including #4 in the country for heart and heart surgery. In December 2011, the hospital opened our new 12-story, state-of-the-art facility offering cutting-edge specialty services for newborns, children and women.