Every year, thousands of young people die in auto accidents, and hundreds of thousands sustain injuries. Even one avoidable child death is too many, but statistics show the problem is far more widespread than that. On average, more than a dozen children under 12 die every week in a crash – and that’s excluding teenagers, who make up the single most at-risk group for car accidents.
May is Youth Traffic Safety Month, the perfect time to remind your kids – regardless of how old they are – of the essential safety information that could help them avoid or stay safe in an accident.
When your children were first old enough to walk – most likely, with you holding their hands – you taught them the most basic requirement for pedestrian safety: look both ways before you cross the street.
Yet pedestrian injuries remain a leading cause of injury-related death among young people, and teenagers – who should have years of experience looking both ways – have the highest risk of getting hurt.
Use this monthly observance to talk to your kids about making safe moves on foot. Remind them to:
Certain factors increase your child’s risk of being hurt in a pedestrian-car accident, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Teach your kids to use special care in urban locations and at nighttime, and to avoid crossing at non-intersections and using alcohol. Children under 10, in particular, have difficulty judging the speed and distance of moving cars. Walking with them can help them stay safe.
Small children need additional protection in case of an accident, but they also grow throughout their childhood. The result, the CDC reported, is that children will use a series of protective car seats over their first dozen or so years of life:
Many parents find that using car seats can be more complicated than it sounds. When, specifically, should they transition their child to a new seat? How do they install it correctly? As challenging as it is to manage the car seat installation and progression, it’s essential. As many as one-third of all children killed car crashes aren’t buckled up in the right safety seat, according to the CDC.
Sometimes the quality and safe use of a car seat can mean the difference between your child walking away from an accident unscathed, and not walking ever again.
Teenagers have a disproportionately high rate of collisions in general and deadly crashes in particular, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported – even though they drive less frequently than almost every other age group. In particular, teens ages 16 and 17 have double the rate of fatal crashes that 18- and 19-year-olds, with just a couple more years of driving experience, have.
You may feel helpless the first time your teen gets behind the wheel alone, but you can help a new driver make good decisions just by talking about some basic safety practices. Remind the teen driver in your life to:
Parents may have more control over their teen’s driving behavior than they realize. A recent survey by the National Safety Council found that 91 percent of parents who drive distractedly do so in front of their teens – setting a potentially dangerous example.
Every single day, children die in car accidents, whether as pedestrians, passengers, or teen drivers. Any step you can take to remind your kids of important safety information is a step in the right direction – toward fewer crashes, fewer injuries, and fewer unnecessary deaths.