Teens on the move

While staying safe as a driver and a passenger is important, riding in a car isn’t the only time a teen is at risk for a serious injury involving a motor vehicle. In 2012, 284 teens ages 13 to 19 died after being hit by a motor vehicle while walking. Another 10,000 were injured. Said another way-- every hour a teen pedestrian is killed or injured in the United States. Unfortunately, teens account for one-third of the population of children in the United States, but they make up two-thirds of the pedestrian fatalities.

Safe Kids Mid-South, led by Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, along with several other coalitions across the country, and with the support of FedEx, surveyed 1,040 teens ages 13 to 18 to explore walking behaviors and their experiences as pedestrians. We learned:

  • 40 percent of teens say they have been hit or nearly hit by a car, bike or motorcycle while walking.
  • Teens who have been hit or had a close call more often report being distracted while crossing the street, and crossing the street in risky ways. 
  • Half of teens overall say they cross the street while distracted by a mobile device.
  • When we looked at unsafe crossing behaviors, we found that teens who had been hit or had a close call more frequently reported crossing in the middle of the block and running across the street than teens who hadn’t been hit or had a near miss.
  • Half of teens in the survey say they walk in the dark at least sometimes; we know that three-quarters of teen pedestrian fatalities happen between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.

“We all know that it’s dangerous to text and walk or drive,” said Susan Helms, director of Injury Prevention and Safe Kids Mid-South, “But it’s still a common practice. We need to talk to our teens about the dangers of crossing the street while distracted.”

And here are some ways to help teens-- and all of us-- stay safe while walking:

  • Put down phones and headphones when crossing the street.
  • Cross at a traffic signal or crosswalk, when possible, and make eye contact with drivers before crossing.
  • Be especially alert when it’s dark out, and make sure you’re visible to drivers.

In addition, everyone can participate in the Moment of Silence Campaign:

Fifteen-year-old Christina Morris-Ward was killed while crossing the street. She was wearing headphones and carrying a cell phone. In memory of Christina and all those who have been killed or injured while crossing the street, Safe Kids has the Moment of Silence campaign. It’s easy to participate-- simply commit to putting your device down and paying attention when crossing the street. Watch the video and learn more about the Moment of Silence campaign.

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