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Unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages 5 to 19. Teenagers are now at greatest risk. Teens have a death rate twice that of younger children and account for half of all child pedestrian deaths.

One of the biggest factors in many of these injuries is distraction. Distraction can take many different forms, from talking with friends to texting. Technological distraction also plays a key role. What makes this different is that it takes a person’s eyes or ears off what’s going on around them.

A recent Safe Kids Worldwide study found:

  • One in five high school students are distracted while crossing the street;
  • One in eight middle school students are distracted while crossing the street; and
  • Almost half of the students surveyed (49 percent) say they use a cell phone while walking to school.

So what can we do to prevent future pedestrian injuries?

Join us in raising awareness and educating families on how to be safe while walking during International Walk to School Day (IWTSD) on Wednesday, October 9.  IWTSD is a global event where communities from more than 40 countries walk and bike to school on a single day. Join families, schools and communities around the globe as they walk and bicycle to school in celebration of Walk to School Day every October.

On this day and every day, follow these tips to stay safe:

  • Put your device down, look, and make eye contact with drivers before crossing.
  • Always walk on the sidewalks or paths and cross at street corners, utilizing traffic signals and crosswalks.
  • Be aware of others who may be distracted and speak up when you see someone who is distracted.
  • If you need to use a cell phone, stop on the sidewalk and find a safe area to talk.
  • When using headphones, look up and pay extra attention and turn the volume off when crossing the street.

Most importantly, parents can set a good example by putting devices down when you are driving or walking around cars.  If parents put their devices down, your kids are more likely to do the same. 

Let’s do our part to keep pedestrians safe.

To find out about how you can participate with your kids on IWTSD, click on www.walkbiketoschool.org.

For more pedestrian safety tips, go to http://www.safekids.org/walkingsafelytips

Christina Keating is the Injury Prevention Coordinator in Trauma at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

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