Traffic Safety Should Be Among First Lessons in New School Year

Experts give tips for avoiding car accidents while walking to school

FRIDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Traffic safety should be among a child's first lessons for the new school year, experts suggest.

Each year in the United States, more than 25,000 pedestrians aged 5 to 14 are injured, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Kids who are struck by cars are among the most severely injured children we see in the emergency department. Because of their height, when a car hits a child, the impact is to the head and torso. This puts the brain and internal organs at risk for serious injuries," Dr. Michelle Macy, a clinical lecturer of emergency medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, said in U-M Health System news release.

Now is the time to educate children about pedestrian safety.

"Parents should be proactive and take the time to talk about safety with their kids before they head back to school," Amy Teddy, injury prevention program manager at the U-M C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, said in the news release.

"It's recommended that parents walk the route to school with students before the start of the [school] year to assess hazards and select a course with the least number of traffic crossings," she advised.

"It's also important to remember that school-age children don't have the ability to judge distances or speed, so they are more likely to try to cross a street when a car is too close to stop in time."

The U-M experts recommend that children always cross the street with an adult until age 10, that they cross the street at corners and crosswalks only, that they use paths and sidewalks, and -- if there are no sidewalks -- that they walk facing traffic.

The experts also noted that distracted drivers are the cause of many pedestrian injuries. They urged drivers to slow down, eliminate discractions and be especially alert in school zones and residential areas.

More information

Safe Kids Worldwide offers pedestrian safety tips.

Robert Preidt SOURCE: University of Michigan Health System, news release, Aug. 26, 2011

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