Young children, especially those between the ages of 5 and 9, are at a higher risk of being hit by oncoming cars when crossing the street than children who are slightly older. In fact, per National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, more than 13,000 children in this age group are struck by cars each year. As children grow and become more independent, it’s important that families teach them how to walk safely and to be aware of their surroundings.
Families should take the time to help them learn about the different aspects of safe walking such as:
- Where the safest places to walk are
- Where to cross the street
- How to cross safely
- How to safely walk at night
Families should ensure that young children know they need to be supervised when walking near the street, crossing the road, or venturing through a parking lot. Young children face higher risk than older children because they aren’t yet able to read and comprehend the noises and sights associated with oncoming traffic, thus putting them at higher risk than their older counterparts. The University of Idaho conducted a study to compare traffic detection skills in adults, aged 19-24 and children, aged 6 to 9. Here is what the study discovered:
“These participants were asked to listen on headphones to 24 recordings of a car approaching at 5, 12 and 25 miles per hour, from both directions, and pressed a computer key when they detected the vehicle, identified its direction and thought it had arrived at their location. The computer was programmed to calculate distances in relation to key presses.
“Adults detected the car significantly earlier than children, though 8 and 9-year-olds heard the car before 6 and 7-year-olds. Adults detected the vehicle traveling at 5 miles per hour at a distance of about 48 feet, compared with 35 feet for younger children and 41 feet for older children. On average, the vehicle was significantly closer to children than adults when it was detected.
“The vehicle traveling at 25 mph, when engine and tire noises are loudest, was detected significantly earlier than at other speeds. But researchers noted faster-moving vehicles would close in on a pedestrian more quickly and have greater potential to cause a fatal injury. A vehicle approaching from the left was identified with more accuracy, possibly because Americans are accustomed to vehicles moving on the right side of the road, the study suggests. Older children were better than younger children at determining when a vehicle had arrived at their location.”
As parents and caregivers, we must take the time to teach our children how to cross the street safely. Young children should be taught to never cross the street without a trusted adult, while older children should practice doing so with an adult before being allowed to cross unassisted.