Heads Up, New Jersey Drivers! Young Pedestrian Numbers Will Skyrocket Soon
Each spring, as schools offer breaks and the weather gets warmer, children hit the parks, yards, and playgrounds in full force. Whether it is cabin fever or exasperated parents, children are sent outside to get some fresh air and sunshine as winter begrudgingly retreats. After the particularly brutal winter we had this year, expect to see young pedestrians chomping at the bit to get outside as soon as it’s warmer.
The approach of spring brings with it an increased responsibility for drivers to watch out for children. Young children make up a disproportionately large number of pedestrian deaths each year for several reasons. Many are too young to understand the rules of the road, and children in elementary school have an especially difficult time judging the speed and distance of an approaching vehicle. Most children are simply too preoccupied with their own activities to think much about safety around cars—so it’s up to us to make up the difference.
Top Four Places to Be on High Alert for Child Pedestrians
While we should always drive carefully, there are four primary areas where a little extra caution can go a long way toward protecting child pedestrians:
- Intersections, crosswalks, and street corners can be confusing enough for adults to follow traffic rules, and for children, the challenge is even greater. Many children assume that the crosswalk will keep them safe, so as you approach a corner or make a turn, keep your eyes peeled for children who may try to cross.
- Child-friendly zones, like parks and playgrounds, generally attract a high volume of children without the added protection of a school zone. The high energy and excitement of a group of kids together can cause trouble if a child decides to chase something (or someone) into the street.
- Backing out of a driveway can be another time when you may overlook any neighborhood kids, so be extra sure that the area is clear before proceeding. Unlike adults, children may not recognize your reverse lights, so do not assume that they will know.
- Parking lots are a nightmare for pedestrians of any age as visibility is terrible. For tiny pedestrians that are hard to see out in the open, the obstacles in a parking lot render them virtually invisible. Travel slowly through lanes and scan carefully to make sure that you can stop quickly if a child pops out from behind a car.
While you should always be alert when driving, this spring is sure to up the ante as people of all ages come out of hibernation to enjoy spring when it finally arrives. Keep your eyes peeled and your speed in check as you travel from place to place this spring, and help keep others informed by sharing this article with them on social media!
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