Parents & Teachers


Prevent Child Pedestrian Injuries

Montlick & Associates

Pedestrian Safety

Family Safety Advocate, Jacquie Palisi advises parents how to best protect their children from pedestrian related injuries. To help keep your kids safe on the streets, teach your children important Child Pedestrian Safety Rules found in our downloadable Safety Tips below.

Pedestrian Injuries

In 1999, nearly 5,000 pedestrians died from traffic-related injuries and another 85,000 sustained nonfatal injuries.

  • In 1999, 559 pedestrians ages 5 through 18 were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes.
  • Children 15 and younger accounted for 12% of pedestrian fatalities and 32% of nonfatal pedestrian injuries.
  • Since 1989, 226 school-age pedestrians (less than 19 years old) have died in school bus-related crashes. More than half of all school-age pedestrians killed in school bus-related crashes were between the ages of 5 and 7.
  • In 1999, almost 25 percent of all children between the ages of 5 and 9 years old who were killed in traffic crashes were pedestrians.
  • In 1999, approximately one-third of pedestrians 14 and older who were killed by a motor vehicle were intoxicated, with blood alcohol concentrations of 0.10% or more.

Children are at increased risk for pedestrian injuries for several reasons:

  • Their smaller size makes them difficult for drivers to see, especially if they are standing between parked cars on the side of the road.
  • Because young children are often unable to judge distances and vehicle speeds accurately, they can easily misjudge whether it is safe to cross a street.
  • Parents can over-estimate their children's ability to cross the street. Many elementary school-aged children don't understand traffic signals and don't know how to anticipate drivers' actions.
  • Drivers and child pedestrians each assume (incorrectly) that the other will yield the right-of-way.
Safety Tips

Children ages 10 and under should not cross an intersection without supervision.

Teach children to stop at a curb and look LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT for traffic before proceeding. Make sure children have safe play areas away from traffic such as fenced playgrounds and yards.

Railroad Safety

Over the past 10 years, 844 children under the age of 16 were killed and 2,864 were injured at railroad crossings and on railroad property, such as tracks, yards, and equipment.

  • During 1999, 78 young people ages 6 through 20 were killed and another 98 were injured while trespassing on railroad property.
  • Every 115 minutes, either a person or vehicle is hit by a train.
  • Nearly half of all collisions at railroad crossings occur where automatic warning devices such as flashing lights or flashing lights with gates are present and are functioning properly.

Many children believe they will hear an oncoming train or that a train will be able to stop in time; however, if a 150-car freight train is traveling 50 miles per hour, it will take over a mile to stop.

Teach children to Stop, Look and Listen for trains before crossing railroad tracks and to never play on or near the tracks.

Walkability Checklist

Participate in the Walkability Checklist created by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find out how safe it is to walk in your neighborhood.

Everyone benefits from walking. But walking needs to be safe and easy. Take a walk with your child and use this checklist to decide if your neighborhood is a friendly place to walk. If you find problems, there are ways you can make things better.

Getting started: Pick a place to walk, like the route to school, a friend's house, or just somewhere fun to go. Read over the checklist before you go, and as you walk, note the locations of things you would like to change. At the end of your walk, circle an overall rating for each question. Then add up the numbers to see how you rated your walk.

Rating scale:

1 = awful
2 = many problems
3 = some problems
4 = good
5 = very good
6 = excellent

1. Did you have enough room to walk safely?

Overall rating 1 2 3 4 5 6

Yes OR Some problems: ___

Sidewalks or paths started and stopped ___
Sidewalks were broken or cracked ___
Sidewalks were blocked with poles, signs, dumpsters, etc. ___
No sidewalks, paths, or shoulders ___
Too much traffic ___
Something else?_____________________________
Locations of problems:_________________________

2. Was it easy to cross streets?

Overall rating 1 2 3 4 5

Yes OR Some problems: ___

Road was too wide ___
Traffic signals made us wait too long or did not give us enough time to cross ___
Needed striped crosswalks or traffic signals ___
Parked cars blocked our view of traffic ___
Trees or plants blocked our view of traffic ___
Needed curb ramps or ramps needed repair ___
Something else?________________________________
Locations of problems:__________________________

3. Did drivers behave well?

Overall rating 1 2 3 4 5

Yes OR Some problems:____

Drivers ...
Backed out of driveways without looking ___
Did not yield to people crossing street ___
Turned into people crossing streets ___
Drove too fast ___
Sped up to make it through traffic lights or drove through red lights ___
Something else? ________________________________
Locations of problems:________________________

4. Was it easy to follow safety rules?

Overall rating 1 2 3 4 5

Could you and your child ...

(Answer Yes or No)
Cross at crosswalks or where you could see and be seen by drivers?
Stop and look left, right, and left again before crossing streets?
Walk on sidewalks, or shoulders (if no sidewalks), facing traffic?
Cross with the light? Locations of problems:____________________________

5. Was your walk pleasant?

Overall rating 1 2 3 4 5

Yes OR Some unpleasant things: ___

Needs more grass, flowers, or trees ___
Scary dogs ___
Suspicious activity ___
Not well lit ___
Dirty, lots of litter or trash ___
Something else?____________________________
Locations of problems:________________________

How does your neighborhood stack up? Add up your ratings and decide.

( ) = total

If you scored:

26 - 30 Celebrate! You have a great neighborhood for walking.
21 - 25 Celebrate a little. Your neighborhood is pretty good.
16 - 20 Okay, but it needs work.
11 - 15 It needs lots of work. You deserve better than that.
5 - 10 Call out the National Guard before you walk. It's a disaster area.

Did You Find Something That Needs to be Changed?

The section below has suggestions for making neighborhoods better places for walking that match up with the problems you identified.

Making Your Community More Walkable

You have collected valuable information about walking in your neighborhood. Listed below are some suggestions for making it easier to walk in your community. Your local traffic engineer may be the key person to contact about many of the things you want to change.

But before you do, learn about ideas other communities are trying. A new concept called traffic calming is transforming neighborhood streets from roads that encourage speeding to places that invite people to walk.

  What you and your child can do IMMEDIATELY What you and your community can do with more time

1. Did you have room to walk safely?

  • Sidewalks or paths started and stopped
  • Sidewalks broken/cracked
  • Sidewalks blocked
  • No sidewalks, paths or shoulder
  • Too much traffic
  • Pick another route for now
  • Tell local transportation engineers or public works department about specific problems, and provide a copy of checklist
  • Speak up at board/development meetings
  • Write or petition the city for walkways
  • Gather neighborhood signatures
  • Make media aware of problem

2. Was it easy to cross streets?

  • Road too wide
  • Traffic signals made us wait too long or did not give us enough time to cross
  • Crosswalks/traffic signals needed View of traffic blocked by parked cars, trees, or plants
  • Needed curb ramps; ramp needed repair
  • Pick another route for now
  • Share problems and checklist with local transportation engineers or public works department
  • Trim your trees and bushes that block the street, and ask neighbors to do the same
  • Leave nice notes on problem cars, asking owners not to park there
  • Push for crosswalks, signals, or parking changes at city meetings
  • Give report identifying parked cars that are safety hazards to transportation engineer
  • Report illegally parked cars to the police
  • Request that public works department trims trees and plants
  • Make media aware of problem

4. Could you follow safety rules?

  • Cross at crosswalks or where you could see and be seen
  • Stop and look left, right, left before crossing
  • Walk on sidewalks or shoulders facing traffic (if no sidewalks)
  • Cross with the light
  • Educate yourself about safe walking and teach your child
  • Organize parents in your neighborhood to walk children to school
  • Encourage schools to teach pedestrian safety
  • Help schools start Safe Routes to School programs
  • Encourage corporate support for flex schedules so parents can walk children to school

5. Was your walk pleasant?

  • Needs grass, flowers, trees
  • Scary dogs
  • Suspicious activity
  • Not well lit
  • Dirty, littered
  • Pick another route for now
  • Ask neighbors to keep dogs leashed or fenced
  • Report scary dogs to animal control department
  • Report suspicious activity to police
  • Report lighting needs to the city
  • Take a walk with a trash bag
  • Plant trees, flowers, and bushes in your yard
  • Request increased police enforcement
  • Start a crime-watch program in your neighborhood
  • Organize a community cleanup day
  • Sponsor a tree planting day
  • Sponsor a neighborhood beautification day

Safety Links On This Topic

Sources: The safety tips in this section were compiled from the following great internet resources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (