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Take Care When You Take a Walk

A stroll around the block could be hazardous to your health. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that in miles traveled, pedestrians are 36 times more likely to die in traffic than drivers.

Children and older adults are two groups at higher risk for injury as pedestrians. Here are some ideas on how to help keep them safe when they are on the street.

To keep children safe

Being struck by a vehicle is the leading cause of death and injury in children, according to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC). The age group at highest risk is ages 5 to 9.

Children are at greater risk for injury for several reasons, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Children are smaller and therefore more difficult for drivers to see.

  • Children often cannot accurately judge how fast a vehicle is traveling to know if they have time to cross the street before the vehicle reaches them.

  • Most children do not understand traffic signals and don't know how to anticipate what a driver may do.

  • Children may assume they have the right of way, but drivers may be assuming children must yield.

  • Children are impulsive, often not thinking before they act.

To help keep youngsters safe, do not allow any child under age 10 to walk on streets or near traffic after dark. Teach your children to cross only at the crosswalk and after they have looked both ways, the PBIC says.

Don't just tell your child how to stay safe as a pedestrian. Instead, dedicate a few hours to walking around the neighborhood with the child while demonstrating your safety instructions in person.

To keep older adults safe

Fewer older adults are injured as pedestrians, but the injuries are usually more serious than in other adults because they are more fragile, according to the PBIC. Most older adults struck as pedestrians are obeying traffic laws and using a crosswalk.

Older adults who walk outdoors for exercise should choose footwear with good traction and wear clothing that is bright and visible, the PBIC says.