Safety and Injury among the Nation’s Children

School Crossing
Image courtesy of Safe Kids

Safe Kids recently released a report examining the trends in motor vehicle related pedestrian injuries and deaths among children in the United States. The report notes both significant positive and negative statistics regarding the safety of walking in our nation’s neighborhoods. Interestingly, teenagers are now at the greatest injury risk among children under 19 years old.

Over the past 15 years, there has been a 53% decline in the pedestrian death rate and a 44% decline in the pedestrian injury rate among children under 19 years old. Unfortunately, it looks like progress has slowed in the past few years and it may have even reversed course. The most significant finding, yet probably the least surprising, is that the leading at risk age group since 1995 shifted from 5-9-year-olds (down 34% in the last five years) to older teenagers (up 25% in the last five years) today. Safe Kids hypothesizes that this is related to distraction among teenagers and drivers caused by the use of electronics and other handheld devices.

The report concludes by encouraging further research to accurately determine the causes of these negative trends and uncover effective means to reverse them. They also promote stakeholder, government, and community involvement to increase the safety and walkability of our neighborhoods. By making safe communities a national priority, we can carefully evaluate how changes in behavior, education, environmental improvements, and advocacy can ensure that a culture of walking safety is passed on to future generations.

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