Whether they are outside with a parent, playing with friends, or walking alone, children are at risk for being hit by a car anytime they are near a roadway. Unfortunately, when children are hit by cars, they are almost always injured and sometimes are killed because of the negligent driving of an adult.
In 2011, there were 4,978 collisions between pedestrians and automobiles in Illinois and of those crashes, 4,752 resulted in injuries. An additional 136 pedestrians were killed. This means that in all of the pedestrian accidents in the entire state in 2011, 99% of them resulted in injuries or death to the pedestrian. Eight of those killed were children under the age of 15 at the time of the collision.
No parent wants to see their child injured, especially when it is due to the negligence of a driver, so we have compiled the following safety tips and recommendations to increase awareness of pedestrian crashes involving children and to try to eliminate them throughout the state:
- Always walk along a sidewalk and never in a street – Children should always walk in the safest place possible, and that is what sidewalks are designed to provide. It is also a good idea to tell children only to walk on streets with sidewalks. This will eliminate the temptation to walk in a street if there is not a sidewalk present.
- Plan out walking routes with children ahead of time – If a child is going to take the same path over and over again, like while walking to school, to a babysitter’s house, or even over to see a friend, it is a good idea to select a safe route and to tell your child to take that route when walking. This can let parents pick out safe, residential streets over busy commercial areas, decreasing the amount of vehicular traffic and reducing the risk of an accident.
- Always cross at a designated crosswalk – Kids do not always think safety first and therefore it is a good idea to remind them to always cross a street at an intersection and not in the middle of a block. While it may be easy to remember this on large streets, children often have a temptation to run across a road in a quieter area, especially if their destination is mid-block and they want to get there quickly. Drivers do not expect children to run out in the middle of the road and are less able to avoid a collision if this happens, so make it a household rule that crossing is only allowed in a crosswalk.
- Follow traffic signals and wait your turn – The rules of the road are there to protect everyone, including children, from getting hurt, so they should always be followed. This means that kids should follow the traffic signals and only cross when they have the right-of-way, always walk across an intersection and never run so that cars have plenty of time to see you coming, and obey any signs that apply to pedestrians.
- Wear bright, reflective clothing – While it may seem simple, having a child wear bright, reflecting clothing like a coat or jacket can make a big difference to their safety. Studies show that bright clothing makes it easier for drivers to see pedestrians and therefore less likely that a collision between the two occur. Letting a child pick out his or her own reflective jacket can be a fun way of introducing safety topics into a daily routine and make it more fun to wear.
- Never walk or play in areas where cars drive – This is one of the most overlooked safety topic when it comes to children but parents should always tell their kids not to play where cars may be. This includes parking lot, parking garages, alleyways, and the areas around dumpsters. The danger is that drivers are less likely to look for children in these places and that very light vehicular traffic can give kids a foolhardy sense of safety. This is particularly true when kids play along curbs in piles of fall leaves or in snow banks. While the leaves and snow may look like a great way to have some fun to a child, the city and county employees who clean up the streets are focused on their jobs and are not always looking out for kids, who can be completely obscured from view.
In many cases, pedestrians have the right to go in front of vehicles when crossing streets or roads but not all drivers are aware of this and of those that are, many forget that they must yield to those walking. It is always best to prevent an accident from occurring whenever possible and to keep everyone, pedestrians and drivers included, safe.
The more you talk about safety with your kids, the more likely they are to remember how to walk safely and how to implement safety techniques in their daily lives. Whenever possible, children should walk with an adult or with a buddy who can help them follow the traffic rules. Walking in greater numbers also increases the chance that motorists will see pedestrians and will yield the right-of-way to them, preventing collisions.
If your child has been injured as a pedestrian by the negligence of a driver or other motorist, both you and your child may have a claim for your damages. At Abels & Annes, P.C., we understand that each case is different and unique so we have a lawyer standing by 24 hours a day to discuss the facts involved in your case, including whether you have a claim. Let us help you today.
If your child has been the victim of a pedestrian accident, call us today at (312) 924-7575 or contact us online for a free case consultation.