Thousands of children are seen in emergency rooms every year after they are struck by cars while walking. While young children may not realize the dangers involved in walking near or across the road, the largest demographic by far to be injured as pedestrian is teenagers. In this article, we explore why teens are at risk and what parents and families can do to keep their children safe as they travel on foot.
Why Are Teenagers Often Involved in Pedestrian Accidents?
A recent study by Safe Kids Worldwide found worrying trends in pedestrian injuries in teenagers and children—which are unfortunately on the rise. With pedestrian crash risks for 16-19 year olds increasing steadily over the past five years, children between the ages of 14 and 19 now account for half of all child pedestrian injuries. Over 40,000 children suffered pedestrian injuries in 2014, with thousands more killed as a result of an accident.
Causes for these types of collisions may vary, but many of them are a result of:
- Distracted drivers. One in ten survey respondents who had been involved in a pedestrian accident said that the driver was distracted at the time of the crash. Although many states have banned cellphone use to keep the driver’s eyes on the road, distracted driving causes many accidents every year. Even if drivers stow their phones, they still have the potential to be distracted by the radio, a GPS system, or passengers.
- Distracted walking. Distraction isn’t just a problem for drivers. Using cellphones and mobile devices while walking can cause a child to miss important environmental cues, making them more likely to be struck. When asked what they were doing at the time of their crash, 47% of teen pedestrians reported listening to music, 20% admitted they were talking on the phone, and 18% were texting.
- Speeding. About a quarter of survey responders said that the driver who struck or nearly struck them was driving over the speed limit at the time of the incident. Teens noted that cars weren’t the only speeding vehicles, as motorcyclists and bikers traveling too fast for conditions have also been involved in pedestrian collisions.
- Nighttime drivers. Teenagers who are not yet old enough to drive still want to stay out late, and are likely be traveling on foot or on bicycles after dark. Three out of every four teen pedestrian accidents occurs between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., suggesting that teens coming home from parties or nighttime school events are less likely to be seen by drivers.
- Back to school crashes. Parents often focus their back-to-school walking rules for street crossings or walking in the road on younger children, but teenagers are not immune to accidents in school zones. Children, including older kids, are more likely to be hit by cars in September than any other month of the year.
- Sleep deprivation. More and more research is identifying a lack of sleep as a risk factor in pedestrian accidents. Some studies have found that a chronic lack of sleep elevates a person’s risk of being struck while walking, while others suggest that even one night of too little sleep can impact attention, concentration, and decision-making.
- Poor roadway design. Children who are taught never to walk in the road or cross the street between parked cars may not have much choice if the roadway is not designed for pedestrian travel. Areas near schools should be equipped with crosswalks, signals, crossing guards, sidewalks, and other tools to keep people on foot safe.
While a driver and a pedestrian can both be partially at fault for an accident, the pedestrian is much more likely to be severely injured in the crash. If someone in your family was hurt while traveling on foot, we can help you get the compensation you deserve for your medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. Fill out the quick contact form on this page to have the attorneys at GriffithLaw explain your rights in your free case evaluation, or order a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.