Approximately 630 children are killed every year while walking. Other than in the street, it is in driveways, parking lots and on sidewalks where children under 2 years of age suffer the highest number of injuries as pedestrians.
Policies that increase the number of people walking and bicycling appear to be effective methods of improving the safety of people walking and bicycling.
In 2005, the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) was signed into law. The SAFETEA-LU includes the establishment of Safe Routes to School, a program with the goal of making it safer for children to walk or bike to school. The Safe Routes to School program aims to:
- Fix or improve sidewalks
- Execute traffic calming and speed reduction measures
- Improve pedestrian and bicycle crossings
- Conduct public education campaigns to encourage walking and biking to school.
State and local laws created to protect child pedestrians include:
- Lower speed limits in residential areas
- Protection of pedestrians in crosswalks
- Providing pedestrian walkways
- Prohibition of vehicles from passing school buses while loading and unloading passengers
- Providing crossing guards and requiring pedestrians to not cross streets at locations other than designated crosswalks
Bicycles are associated with more childhood injuries than any other consumer product except automobiles. Universal bicycle helmet use by children ages 4 to 15 would prevent 39,000 to 45,000 head injuries and 18,000 to 55,000 scalp and face injuries each year.
A good fit is vital for a helmet to offer the best protection. Avoid buying an oversized helmet for your child to grow into it. When selecting a helmet, have your child try on the size you think will fit and one size smaller. Select the smallest size that fits comfortably. Learn all rules of the road and obey all traffic laws. Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, not against traffic. Use appropriate hand signals when stopping and turning so others will know your intentions.
To have your child properly fitted for a bike helmet, call Safe Kids Southwest Florida at 239-343-6199 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.