Child Street Safety Education in Virginia May Counter Rising Pedestrian Deaths
The steady rise in pedestrian deaths and injuries in the United States in recent years makes for alarming reading. However, a renewed emphasis on child street safety education in Virginia may bear long-term results.
Police and other experts are taking child safety to the classroom in an attempt to counter deaths and injuries, the Washington Post reported.
Experts hope these innovative campaigns will help kids learn the basics like crossing the road safely and get them more familiar with the streets around their schools.
Although there is a new emphasis on getting kids to walk safely to school, some of the tools existed for decades. For example, Portsmouth’s Safety Town opened in 1975.
Police and other instructors teach kids about bicycle and pedestrian safety, school bus safety, and ‘stranger danger’ at the center on Deep Creek Boulevard.
Every year about 3,900 kids from Portsmouth Public Schools and private schools in the area pass through Safety Town.
Cities nationwide are embracing the safety strategy. They are incorporating street-safety education in school curriculums, while they promote walking and biking to school.
The Post noted an innovative campaign in Montgomery County, Maryland which used photos of teens with tread marks on their faces to send messages about the hazards of distracted walking and driving.
The Montgomery message is promoted on social media with the hashtag #YOLOWalkSafe. In Alexandria in Virginia, crash survivors tell their often harrowing stories at student assemblies. Schools in Alexandria are building miniature city grids on their playgrounds to tell children as young as four-years-old the rules of the road.
Fewer students now walk or cycle to school than in the 1950s and 1960s. Although there are fewer students to get hit by cars, the trend may not be beneficial for student safety.
When kids are driven to school every day they don’t necessarily learn the street-smart tips that keep them safe.
Child safety education in Virginia is now seeking to pick up the pieces.
Many children are afraid of walking or biking to school because cars are speeding or because sidewalks are often broken, missing or non-existent, a Safe Kids Worldwide project found.
Back in the mid-1950s and ’60s, about half of American children walked to school. The rapid growth of car ownership changed everything.
The most recent federal data available from two years ago found a mere 10 percent of children ages 5 to 17 walked to school as of 2017.
Cities are seeking to reverse that trend, not only to encourage active and more healthy lifestyles in communities, but also to reduce traffic congestion and meet environmental goals.
Accidents Emphasize the Need for Child Safety Education in Virginia
Every year, tragedies in Virginia highlight the need for child safety education.
Recently, a 14-year-old boy was killed by a box truck in Norfolk as he tried to cross the road on his scooter at the intersection of Shoop Avenue and Peronne Avenue. Accidents like this highlight the need for education for students and drivers alike.
Notwithstanding educational and other awareness campaigns, the statistics relating to pedestrian deaths and injuries make for grim reading in Virginia.
According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), 123 pedestrian deaths were reported in 2018, a 7.9 percent rise on the previous year.
Virginia saw 1,584 pedestrian injuries, a 0.8 percent rise over 2017. Deaths of people on foot rose 8.3 percent in rural areas and by 7.7 percent in cities.
Child Street Safety Education in Virginia – Tips to Get to School
Some important safe walking and biking to School tips include the following:
- Walk with a friend if possible.
- Remain on sidewalks when they are available.
- Cross the road at designated crosswalks;
- If a crosswalk has lights only cross when the walk symbol is flashing;
- Ask your parents to help you pick the safest route to school;
- Stick to the route you went over with your parents. Don’t let friends talk you into hazardous shortcuts
- Don’t push each other and run near busy roads
- Be seen. Wear bright clothes and reflective strips
- Don’t cross the road behind a school bus in a blind spot;
- Use bike paths or ride in the direction of the traffic if there is no bike path;
- Make sure you have lights on your bike if it’s dark;
- Always wear a bicycle helmet;
- Don’t skateboard on the highway;
- When you have got out of a car make sure the road is clear before crossing it;
- Obey traffic signals, crossing guards, and bus drivers.
- Studies show walking and cycling to school improves the physical and mental wellbeing of children and helps their studies.
If your child has been hurt on the highways in Virginia, please contact our legal team today.