Pedestrians in both industrialized and industrializing countries are vulnerable road users. However, twice as many pedestrians are killed in industrializing countries than in industrialized countries. School-age pedestrians are the victims of a high proportion of these crashes. Younger children are not yet aware of the concept of danger and must learn to recognize the dangers inherent in the road environment. A clear improvement in the recognition of how to cope with the dangers of crossing the street occurs around the age of seven and eight. Children younger than this should be accompanied by an adult when crossing the street. Road safety is not always intuitive and children need to be taught safe practices. Practical experience is necessary to enable pedestrian skills to develop. However, a time lag may exist between experience and skills development. Parental involvement is invaluable to model and reinforce road safety behavior. It is important for parents and caregivers to talk to children about ways that they can stay safe. Children must learn to:
- Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk in the road facing traffic so that they can see and be seen by oncoming vehicles.
- Recognize pedestrian crossings and cross the street at these specially marked locations on the road.
- Wait for the crossing signal before crossing the street.
- Look both ways before crossing the street and keep looking for cars while crossing.
- When a car is parked near the crossing, make sure that there is no driver in the car.
- Never bend down and pick up objects on the road while crossing.
- Avoid blind corners and walking where they cannot be easily seen. Understand that if they cannot see a driver 7 seconds in advance of crossing the road, the driver cannot see them either.
- Be aware of traffic patterns, especially at intersections.
- Be alert to reckless driver behaviors.
- Wear reflective clothing at night, bright clothing by day.
- Recognize and interpret visual and auditory road clues. “Looking” is not enough – they need to register the information and act accordingly.