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Child Pedestrian Safety: Helpful Signals for Parents and Health Care Providers

July 20, 2023

Editor’s Note: Beth Dworetzky's son was born with a complex heart condition. She and her son navigated a fragmented health care system for 31 years until his death in October 2021. Beth recently retired from Family Voices, where her work focused on tools to assess family engagement in systems-changes to improve health care for all children and families. -Cara L. Coleman, JD, MPH, Associate Editor, Pediatrics

Family Connections with Pediatrics blog

Do you know why October is National Pedestrian Safety Month? Halloween night is the most dangerous night of the year for children when it comes to pedestrian safety. While’s it definitely important to know how to be safe when crossing the street on foot on Halloween, it is also important to know how to be safe the other 364 days of the year! That’s why this new AAP Policy Statement is so important for families.

What is the report about?

The American Academy of Pediatrics has updated its “Child Pedestrian Safety” policy statement (10.1542/peds.2023-062506 & 10.1542/peds.2023-062508). with new information that includes:

  • Programs to reduce traffic accidents
  • Example policies that make it equitable (fair) and easy for all people to move around their community safely, even if using a stroller, walker, wheelchair, or have other special needs
  • Tips that health providers can use to help parents learn about and teach their children to be safe when crossing streets

The report describes the Complete Streets and Vision Zero programs:

  • Complete Streets asks road planners to think about how drivers, bikers, walkers, and others will use the streets before they start building.
  • Vision Zero brings planners and community members together to make sure roads are safe, well-marked, the speed limit is right for the type of road, and policies are fair. This helps reduce car accidents and pedestrian deaths.

How can families use this information?

  • Tell your health provider to share the street safety tips in the Bright Futures Family Pocket Guide (English and Spanish) with parents and caregivers.
  • Be a good example. Obey traffic signs when crossing the street, walk in the crosswalk, and hold hands with young children.
  • Watch this great video about crossing the street with your children.
  • Remind older children and teens to limit distractions when walking and crossing streets. Ask them to stop using their phone, earphones and headphones so they can see and hear traffic signals.
  • In places without traffic lights, ask your town to put signs in crosswalks that tell drivers to stop for people on foot.
  • Work with your schools to start a Walking School Bus program to make it safer for children to walk or bike to school.
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