A growing epidemic of traffic injuries is devastating the next generation of children around the globe. More than 500 children are killed every day as a result of road traffic collisions, and tens of thousands are injured, often suffering lifelong disabilities. Children living in poorer nations are most at risk. In fact, more than 90 percent of child road deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.
Around the world, close to 3,400 people, including more than 500 children, die on and around roads each day and many more are injured or disabled. In the spirit of World Day of Remembrance, we are asking everyone to remember Christina, a 15-year-old high school sophomore, who was struck and killed by a car on October 31, 2012. Christina’s mom, Gwen Ward, is working hard to make sure we honor Christina’s memory by encouraging everyone to put their devices down and pay attention when they cross the street.
If you have ever lived in or experienced city life, you know that there are other alternatives to owning a car. When I was younger, between the ages of 6 and 14, I was lucky enough to live in Paris, France. Needless to say, Paris is a busy city and many people walk to get where they are going.
Every October, schools across the globe celebrate International Walk to School Day. Safe Kids is teaming up with FedEx for the 15th year to host events on October 8 that will teach children how to walk to school safely. In honor of these great events, we’ve developed some information for you and your family to use to help your kids stay safe while walking. It only takes a few minutes today, on International Walk to School Day, or any day throughout the year, to teach your kids how to walk safely.
My favorite thing to do while walking by myself was listening to music. I love music. As a child, I was always singing and being scolded by my Aunt Joyce for humming at inappropriate times. But music is soothing to me; it makes me feel happy, playful and, at times, sad. Listening to music and walking seemed, to me, a harmless combination. Needless to say, I soon found out the danger of it.
It seems that teens are texting or tapping on their phones no matter where they are. I know. I am the parent of a high school senior. Unfortunately, cell phonesand other handheld gadgets are causing teens to be more easily distracted, and that is leading to greater risk on the roads. There is a lot of attention on distracted driving, but what about kids who are walkers? While it might seem that as kids get older they’ll become safer while walking, teenagers are now the most at-risk pedestrians of children 19 and under. In fact, every hour of every day, a teen pedestrian is killed or injured in the U.S. after being hit by a car, bike or motorcycle.
If there is one thing I know about myself, it’s that I am not the most coordinated person. I know this because I ran cross-country in high school, and I still have the scars to prove it. Even the smallest branch or bump in the road used to be enough to bring me tumbling to the ground in spectacular fashion.
This tradition of tumbling continued when I left for college and became a tour guide. If you have ever been on a tour of a college campus, you can imagine that it is not the best job for the uncoordinated. Leading the tours required me to walk backwards in front of large groups of people. On my very first tour as a freshly-minted guide, I ran into no less than five tree branches and several innocent bystanders, not to mention nearly being struck by a passing car.
One of the most interesting aspects of working at Safe Kids is that we get to play "detective.” If we see a statistic we find alarming, like that every hour of every day a teen is hit by a car and killed or injured in the U.S., we get to try to figure out the five W’s, who, what, where, when and why. Last year, we discovered that the pedestrian death rate for teens is twice that of younger children. This year, we took our detective role one step further. We surveyed 1000 teens ages 13-18 to understand more about their walking habits: what they’re doing, and why.
I spend most of my days at a desk helping people and communities across the county who work to keep kids safe. As fulfilling as that is, my favorite experiences are those that allow me to help in the community hands on.
Safe Kids implements a 10-country program called Walk This Way, which works around the world to make communities safer for children to walk. It’s hard to believe that there are places in the world where simply walking to school is not safe for children. But we know we can change this reality for children and families.