Abels & Annes

Helping Your Kids Understand Pedestrian Safety in Chicago

51216How safe are your kids? Sure, you have talked with them about being responsible, acting appropriately, and avoiding any unnecessary risks, but have they heeded your advice? Are you confident that they always act in a manner that you would approve of, even if you are not around?

It probably depends on the ages of your children, but odds are that they make mistakes or lapses in judgment on at least an occasional basis. It is part of being young and learning about the world to test boundaries and see what happens if you break a rule or guideline, and while most of the time it may be harmless, some incidents can have tragic results.

Millions of people walk in and around Chicago every single year, and a large number of them are children. All of these pedestrians face some risks but harm seems to befall the young at a disproportionately large rate, leading many parents to wonder what they can do to make pedestrian safety an issue with their family members and keep their kids protected.

First, never underestimate how important it is to have conversations with your children related to safety. As soon as kids begin to walk, you can start teaching them the basics and continue teaching them as they age. Very young children should know that they cannot walk into a street or crosswalk by themselves and that they must wait for an adult to escort them while walking. As your children grow up, establish limited guidelines for them by allowing them to walk on sidewalks in their neighborhoods but preventing them from crossing busy streets. Finally, as your kids become teens, remind them that they are never old enough to ignore safety concerns and that they are still at risk for being involved in a pedestrian accident.

The biggest threat to the safety of children who walk in Chicago continues to be errant drivers. Motorists who are traveling too fast for conditions, are distracted while driving, are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or simply fail to pay attention all increase the odds that they will cause an injury to a minor or child who walks, including those who walk to and from school. In Illinois, the law gives pedestrians the right of way in many situations which means that vehicular traffic must yield to walkers; however, every week a crash takes place here that is caused by a driver who ignored the legal duty to yield and instead collided with a pedestrian.

If your child walks on occasion, remind her to only cross the street at marked pedestrian crosswalks and only when she has the right to do so. Teach him about pedestrian traffic control signals and make sure he understands that sometimes cars will not yield even if he has the right of way. If she walks during early mornings or nights, make sure she wears clothing with reflective patches and/or bright colors so that she is more noticeable to passersby and explain to her that it is never wise to play where cars park, like parking lots and garages.

Finally, remember that talking to your children just once about safety will never be adequate. Kids need to be reminded often of the proper way to act and a continuous dialog related to safety can help drive home your message. It is always better to prevent an accident when possible so if you have kids, talk to them today.

Prior Blog Entry:

Dangers of Truck Underride Accidents in Chicago, Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, published May 10, 2016.