The ABCs of Pedestrian Safety

As students begin shopping for supplies and teachers begin planning for a new academic year, Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH) has some tips for parents and children on the safest ways for kids to travel to and from school. Whether walking or biking, there are major risks to be aware of to ensure overall transportation health and safety.

Lacye Vance, recreational safety analyst of the Injury Prevention Center, offers advice for pedestrians and cyclists.

For pedestrian safety, children should know:

  • Intersections should be crossed in marked lanes and pedestrians should always look both ways before crossing.
  • Be cautious of vehicles backing up and assume that children cannot be seen by drivers. Be watchful of cars in driveways, intersections and those turning or pulling out.
  • Children should also be aware that if they can see a driver, the driver may not able to see them. Wear bright or reflective clothing, carry a flashlight when walking at dawn or dusk and attempt to make eye contact with a driver to make sure that you are seen.
  • Trust should be priority and safety measures such as crosswalks and traffic lights are meant to keep children safe, however they are not able to prevent every injury. Children should always be mindful of what is going around them.

For parents as well, walking with mobile devices can cause a distraction for other pedestrians and drivers.

For bicycle safety, children should:

  • Choose the right bike according to size. Both feet should be able to touch the ground when sitting on the seat and touching the handlebars.
  • For bikes with hand brakes, children should be able to comfortably grasp the brakes and apply enough pressure to safely stop the bike.
  • Children should ride with the flow of traffic, those under the age of 10 are able to ride on the sidewalk, but others are required to ride on the road and stay as far to the right as possible.
  • Respect traffic signals and stop at all stop signs and stop lights. Know proper hand signals for left, right and stop.
  • Stop and look left, right and left again before crossing an intersection or entering the street. Watch for traffic from behind before making a left turn. Drivers should give three feet of clearance to bikers.
  • Always wear a helmet that fits and meets safety standards developed by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Wear snug-fitting clothes. Oversized or baggy clothing can get caught in the bike.

Know the ABCs of biking:

  • Air tires and make sure they are properly inflated.
  • Brakes must work and bars must be tightened.
  • Chains must be tight and oiled.

Drivers should also remember to stop for school buses in both lanes of traffic. Children should cross in front of the bus, never behind it. When parents are also dropping children off in carpool lines they should remember to drop them off at the curb or driveway and make sure they do not run in front of or behind other vehicles. Parents should secure items in children's backpacks so that objects will not fall out when exiting the vehicle.

Vance encourages the activities of biking and walking to school and these resources help the environment, reduce traffic congestion and promote wellness. Children should be under adult supervision when traveling to school to help make decisions and reduce risks of injuries or bullying.

If a child feels he or she is ready to travel to and from school, a skills assessment checklist is available through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at