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Pedestrian Safety

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What do I need to know about pedestrian safety?

Pedestrian safety is an important skill your child needs to learn early. Pedestrian safety includes when your child is walking from one place to another or crossing a street. He or she needs to learn what to watch for and how to help drivers see him or her.

What are some pedestrian safety guidelines I need to follow?

  • Your child needs to cross the street with an adult. A child younger than 10 may not be able to tell how fast a car is going. He or she may not know what to look for or how to decide it is safe to cross. Young children may also walk too slowly to make it all the way across a wide street safely. Even at 12 years, some children do not have enough skill to cross alone and will still need adult supervision.
  • Be a good role model. This means letting your child see you follow the same safety rules you teach him or her. Talk to your child as you follow the rules. For example, tell him or her that you are looking both ways before and while you cross.
  • Help your child stay safe on Halloween. Have your child wear a costume that is easy to see in the dark. You may need to add reflective tape or other material to the costume. Your child can also use a glow stick or flashlight. Make sure he or she can see and hear through a mask or other part of the costume worn on the head. Teach your child to follow the rules about crossing the street safely. Do not let him or her dart across the street to get to a house.

What pedestrian safety guidelines do I need to teach my child?

  • Do not run into the street. Your child may be playing with a toy or a pet that goes into the street. He or she might run after the toy or pet without knowing a car is coming. He or she may be too distracted to think about where the car is or how fast it is going. Teach your child that a car coming down the street may not be able to stop quickly. Teach your child not to dart out into the street between parked cars. A driver may not see your child in time to stop.
  • Be careful at the bus stop. Teach your child to follow the same rules when he or she is walking to the bus stop or is waiting for the bus to come. Tell him or her not to run across the street if he or she is late. A school bus may have a stop sign attached to the side to let drivers know children are getting on the bus. Drivers who stopped to let children get on the bus may start to go when the sign is pulled in. They may not be able to stop in time if your child runs across the street to catch the bus.
  • Watch for people on bicycles and scooters. If a street does not have a separate bicycle lane, a person may be riding on the sidewalk or path. A person on a bicycle or scooter may be going fast, especially down a hill. Bicycles, scooters, and skateboards can be quieter than cars. Your child may not see or hear them quickly enough to get out of the way in time.
  • Stay visible. Teach your child to watch out for vehicles that are backing up. Depending on the angle and your child's height, the driver may not be able to see him or her.
  • Remove distractions. Distractions may include using a smart phone, tablet, or other electronic device while walking. Your child will be looking down at the device instead of looking ahead and around him or her. Headphones may prevent your child from hearing what is happening around him or her. Teach your child not to use anything that is a distraction while he or she is walking.
  • Walk on sidewalks or marked paths. Your child should walk facing traffic if no sidewalks are available. This will help make sure your child is aware of the traffic around him or her.

How can I help my child learn to cross the street safely?

Teach your child to do the following, even to cross the street in front of his or her house:

  • Look both ways before and during crossing. Your child needs to look to the left and to the right to make sure it is clear both ways. Teach your child to look for cars, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, skaters, skateboarders. Your child needs to keep looking left and right as he or she crosses the street. Teach your child not to play with another person or stop while crossing the street. He or she needs to walk quickly but not run. The risk for tripping is higher if your child runs.
  • Cross at crosswalks, with a walk signal. Teach your child how to recognize a crosswalk. Teach him or her what traffic signals mean. This includes red, yellow, and green lights, turn arrows, and the walk sign. Help him or her understand what each light or crossing sound means for pedestrians.
  • Cross the street at corners if needed. Your child may be walking where streets do not have crosswalks or crossing lights. Show him or her how to go to the corner and check that the way is clear before starting to walk.
  • Make eye contact with drivers before starting to cross. Eye contact is a way to know that a driver sees your child, and your child sees the driver. Your child still needs to make sure the driver is going to wait for him or her to cross.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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