Fort Worth, Texas,
09:47 AM

Number of children injured by vehicles on the rise

Study shows kids may lack skills needed to safely cross a street until teen years

News of children being hit by cars in North Texas has been seemingly everywhere lately. Unfortunately, it’s a trend reflected by the number of patients being admitted to Cook Children’s Medical Center.

Last month alone, eight children were taken to Cook Children’s Emergency Department after being hit by cars while walking or riding bicycles. The same number of children were injured in February.

“Over the past couple years, we’ve seen the numbers increase,” said Sharon Evans, Trauma/Injury Prevention Coordinator at Cook Children’s. “We can’t say why this is happening, but we do know children do not have the cognitive skills to cross a street safely by themselves until they are at least 10.”

According to a new study released by the University of Iowa, 10 may still be too young. Researchers suggest children may not have the perceptual judgment or motor skills needed to safely cross a street until they are 14 years old. The study used virtual reality to simulate a busy street. Then, children, ages 6 to 14, were asked to cross multiple times.

The results show the children, up to their early teenage years, had a difficult time deciding when to cross the street. The study also evaluated how often the children were involved in an accident during the simulation.

Accident rates from the study:

· 6 year olds – 8%

· 8 year olds – 6%

· 12 year olds – 2%

So what do parents need to know?

Do not allow children under the age of 10 to cross the street by themselves. Even better, wait until they are a teenager and able to confidently know when to safely cross.

Cook Children’s recommends teaching these behaviors before allowing a child of any age to cross the street alone:

  • Look left, right and left again before crossing the street. Cross when the street is clear, and keep looking both ways while crossing. Walk, don’t run.
  • Understand and obey traffic signals and signs.
  • Walk facing traffic, on sidewalks or paths, so that you can see oncoming cars. If there are no sidewalks, walk as far to the left as possible.

“When I visit children who have suffered pedestrian injuries, the most common thing they tell me is that they thought the driver saw them,” explained Evans. “It’s important to teach your children that just because they see a driver, it doesn’t mean the driver sees them. They need to make eye contact with the driver and wait for the driver to stop and signal to them before attempting to cross the street.”

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