Street safety for kids - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

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Street safety for kids

Research shows that getting hit by a car is the third leading cause of death for kids 5 to 9 years old. And it's a real danger for teenagers, too.

Kids and drivers alike need to do a better job of staying alert out on the streets.  

"When parents are teaching their kids to walk, they are so excited about those very first steps. Little do they know what they're going to get into," says Kate Carr, president and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide. "It doesn't stop when you teach them left-right-left. We really need to go beyond that with our children."

Carr says you need to teach your children that if they're walking down the street, to use the sidewalk or a pavement. If they have to walk in the street, teach them to walk with the traffic going in the opposite direction. And, of course, if they have to cross the street, teach them to make sure and hold on to an adult's hand.

Carr says as kids get older, it's important to continue the conversation about safe walking.

"Today, with so many distracted drivers, we also have to teach our kids to be on the lookout for a distracted driver," she explains. "The best way to do that is before you step foot in the crosswalk, because of course we are going to emphasize that you only cross the street at a corner or at a crosswalk, that you are watching for an approaching vehicle and that you make eye contact with the driver. That you try and judge, have they seen me? Are they going to stop? Or is this a distracted driver who is going to go right through that stop sign or red light?"

But Carr warns it's not just the driver's distraction that kids need to watch out for.

"We're seeing a tremendous increase in pedestrian accidents caused by distracted walkers. And what's the biggest source of distraction? Of course it's a cell phone, or it's some type of technology instrument that is putting music in your ear. And that's a great thing. We love technology," she says. "But if you're using technology when you're walking and you're distracted and you're not paying attention to your environment, we have data that shows that you are much more likely to be in an accident as a result of that distraction."

Her advice to walkers is to think smartly before you step out into that street and are at risk of being hit by a vehicle. You can get there safely if you unplug and use your ears, your eyes, your head and your feet.

New research shows that for kids, faster moving cars appear to loom less than slowly moving cars, creating a dangerous illusion that speedy cars are not approaching.  So not only do fast drivers need more time to react, but young pedestrians may not see the cars coming in the first place.  It can be a deadly combination.

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