Contributor Dr. Elise Herman
Walking is a great way to exercise for adults and kids alike, but there is a concerning 11% increase in child and adolescent pedestrian fatalities in the US in the last 10 years, resulting in about 600 deaths per year. In response to this, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a new policy statement in June 2023. It discusses not only what we can all do to keep our kids safe while walking near cars but addresses how communities can change roads and driving to help prevent pedestrian injuries.
There may be multiple reasons for this spike in pedestrian accidents involving children and youth. Both drivers and walkers tend to be more distracted than in the past, mostly by cell phones. Wearing earbuds makes walkers less aware of their environment. More kids are also walking to school (a good thing) but need to do so safely.
The risk of being hit by a car or other vehicle is greatest in rural areas, according to the AAP, and boys are more likely than girls to be victims. Vehicle speed is the most important factor. In general, the faster the vehicle is going, the greater the risk of a collision with a pedestrian and the more severe the injury. For this reason, it is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics that communities change policies and planning regarding roads. Speed bumps, roundabouts, and lower speed limits all work well to slow vehicles down. Photo speed limit enforcement, particularly in school zones, is very effective. Simply extending curbs is an easy way to help protect pedestrians.
There are steps we can all take to help kids be safe when around cars, both in advising our children and being safer drivers ourselves.
more about The contributor
Dr. Elise Herman
Dr. Herman is passionate about community health outreach, school programs, and child/family health and wellness. She has more than 31 years of experience as a pediatrician in Ellensburg, Washington, the last 3 with KVH Pediatrics. In 2022 Dr. Herman mostly retired from practice and continues to contribute blog posts and remain a visible advocate for kids in the community.