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For Release: April 8, 2010 
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
(405) 271-5601

State Health Officials Offer Tips for Child Pedestrian Safety

With warmer weather approaching and more children playing outside near traffic, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Injury Prevention Service would like to remind drivers to slow down and watch for pedestrians crossing streets, especially children.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a pedestrian is killed in a traffic crash every 113 minutes and injured in a traffic crash every 8 minutes. In Oklahoma in 2008, the Oklahoma Highway Safety Office reported that 49 pedestrians involved in traffic crashes in Oklahoma were killed and 552 pedestrians involved in traffic crashes were injured. Twenty-seven percent of pedestrians involved in traffic crashes were younger than 16 years of age.

In addition to deaths and injuries that occur on roadways, many also occur in driveways, in parking lots, and on private roads. NHTSA’s Not-in-Traffic Surveillance system estimated that on average, 106 child fatalities occurred each year when they were struck by forward-moving vehicles in nontraffic incidents, and 99 child fatalities occurred each year in nontraffic vehicle backover incidents. Safe Kids USA reported that 83 percent of child pedestrian deaths occur at non-intersection locations and four out of five driveway-related incidents occur among children four years of age and younger.

The OSDH, NHTSA, and Safe Kids USA would like to remind families to keep safety in mind when walking near traffic and roadways by offering the following pedestrian safety tips:

  • Walk on sidewalks, crosswalks, or walking paths. Avoid walking in traffic where there are no sidewalks, crosswalks, or walking paths. If you must walk on a street without sidewalks, walk facing traffic.
  • Cross at intersections. Most pedestrians are involved in traffic crashes when they do not cross the street at intersections.
  • Look left, right, left. Stop at the curb and look to the left, to the right, and then to the left again for traffic. Pedestrians who stop at the curb signal to drivers that they intend to cross the street. Cross streets on marked crosswalks and obey traffic signals.
  • See and be seen. Stay out of the driver’s blind spot and make eye contact with drivers when crossing busy streets. Do not assume that drivers can see you. Wear bright colors or reflective clothing and carry a flashlight when walking in the dark. Be aware of vehicles backing out of driveways or parking spaces.
  • Supervise children near traffic. Avoid letting children play alone in driveways, parking lots, or near traffic – children are small and are not easily seen by drivers, and children have difficulty judging vehicle distances and speeds. Teach children to obey traffic rules and cross the street with a trusted adult whenever possible.
  • Prevent backovers. Teach children never to play in, under, or around vehicles. Carefully check driveways, streets, parking spaces, and other areas around your vehicle for children and adults before backing out.

More pedestrian safety tips can be found on the NHSTA’s Web site at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/portal/site/nhtsa/menuitem.dfedd570f698cabbbf30811060008a0c/ and the Safe Kids USA’s Web site at http://www.safekids.org/safety-basics/safety-resources-by-risk-area/pedestrian/pedestrian-safety-tips-1.html.

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