Although there has been a 53 percent reduction in child pedestrian accident deaths since 1995, the rise of handheld devices has led to distracted drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Now Is the Time to Review Child Safety Tips With Colorado’s School-Age Children

The waning days of summer are upon us, and in just a few short weeks, millions of young children and teenagers will be heading back to school. While a majority of school-age children are dropped off by either car or bus, there are still a lot of students who ride a bike or walk to school and now is the time to start thinking about their safety.

Teens at More Risk While Walking Than Young Children

Statistics dating back to 1995, noted that children ages 5 to 9 were most at risk of being struck by a vehicle while walking. A study estimated that since 1995, there have been more than 11,000 pedestrian accident deaths involving children hit by a vehicle. That study goes on to report there is good news, in that, there has been a 53 percent reduction in pedestrian deaths of children over the past 15 years.

However, the news is not so good when it comes to teenagers. Teens are now considered most at-risk for pedestrian injury. According to officials, the main reason behind this has to do with the level of distraction on the part of the teen pedestrian. Cell phones and other handheld gadgets draw teens away from traffic and other hazards. Headphones also cause a problem as teens are walking while listening to music or talking on the phone, and again, these actions subvert their attention from what is going on around them.

So, as a refresher, here are some basic safety tips for children and teens to keep in mind while walking:

  • If you need to use a cell phone, stop walking and find a safe place to stand and make your call.
  • Always cross streets as designated by traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Always walk on the sidewalk. If you find yourself in an area with no sidewalks, walk facing the traffic and as far to the left as you can get.
  • Always look left, right, and then left again before crossing a street.
  • Never walk out into the street between parked cars.
  • Whenever possible, make eye contact with the driver before crossing the street, so you know the driver has seen you.

Cyclists Must Follow Road Rules Now More Than Ever

When it comes to biking, the National Safety Council notes that in 2015, bicyclists of all ages suffered more injuries than those riding skateboards, playing on trampolines, running through the playground, or swimming combined. Around 1,100 bicyclists died after colliding with a vehicle while nearly 500,000 more people were treated for bicycle accident injuries that year.

Regardless of age, the most important thing a bicyclist can do is always wear a helmet. It’s estimated that cyclists involved in an accident who wear a helmet decrease their chance of a head injury by 60 percent and brain injury by 58 percent. For a helmet to protect your head, however, it must fit properly.

Riders of all ages should know the basics of how to properly fit a bike helmet, and if you are not sure, the Colorado Department of Transportation offers some great information on bike safety, especially for younger cyclists.

Reinforce Bicycle Safety Rules With Your Children

When it comes to bike safety in Colorado, it’s a good idea to reinforce the rules with your school-aged children:

  • Always ride in the same direction as traffic – a good tip is always bike right, so you are with the flow of traffic.
  • Obey all traffic signs and traffic signals.
  • Always signal your turns – if you are turning left, put your left hand out; if you are turning right, bend your left arm at the elbow, so the hand is pointed up.
  • Always ride in a straight line – no weaving as this makes it harder on motorists to predict your next move.

Walking or biking to school is a great way to exercise and get some fresh air, but just remember, safety first. Keep your eyes looking ahead, ears open, and follow all the rules, so you do your part in keeping yourself safe.

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