Why are Child Road Pedestrians at Greater Risk?
Road safety issues are a major hindrance to the progress of the country, especially in the developing ones. The disproportionate rate of increase in motor vehicles and infrastructure has been the main reason behind such issues. The fact that 10.5 % of our fatal accidents consist of children below 18 years of age stands as a proof that the road safety rules and regulations are not being implemented in an effective manner.
There are many factors which contribute to this fact.
1. Distraction and Impulsive behavior
Walking skills develop in children around the age of four to six years. They learn by practice to walk on roads and in busy parking lots through their teen years enabling them to be sensible adults. Kids usually get distracted while walking which adds to the risk.
Even after the safety lessons taught in their classrooms, kids seldom think about traffic and safety while on roads. They like to have fun and the enthusiastic nature, if not supervised can lead to accidents.
2. Attention switching and focus
One needs to consider the direction of vehicles, speed and distance simultaneously for a road crossing. Attention switching is also required to identify the risks and ignore distractions. Shifting attention from pets, friends or playthings to the oncoming traffic is usually tough for little children.
If the child loses his/her concentration, the risks of accident are higher. Children need extra help to maintain the focus.
3. Failure to recognize signals
It is not advisable for the parents to allow the children to walk independently while travelling on busy roads. Kids cannot differentiate the signals properly and lack judgmental capacities to tackle the oncoming traffic and take appropriate decisions.
Children often confuse the traffic signs and symbols and it is the duty of the parents and caregivers to repeatedly emphasize the signals through various means either as part of the curriculum or with daily chores. Parents should always hold the hands of younger children, since they are in their ‘exploratory’ years.
4. Physical constraints
Children have only one third of the ability of the adults in peripheral vision. They are often neglected because of the short physique. Any mishaps could also become serious since their vital organs are still in development stage. It is therefore advisable for the motorists to slow down near schools.
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5. Negligence of motorists
Kids often get ignored in the sidewalks too. Teach the children to be careful in parking lots and sidewalks. “School ahead’ sign boards can be installed to get the motorists to be cautious. However, such precautionary measures work only in the vicinity of the schools and not on other roads. Hence it is wiser to teach the children about safe walking on sidewalks and parking spaces. Kids should be discouraged to play in parking lots where drivers fail to notice them while taking out the vehicles in reverse.
Accidents can happen even in parking lots at homes. It is better for the elders to keep the children inside the vehicle before moving the vehicle out.
6. Risk is greater when unaccompanied by elders.
Never leave a child unattended in traffic or parking spaces. Especially children below 10 years should never be left alone. Adult supervision is needed even if they are on their cycles or roller skates, etc. Lack of judgment can often lead to inaction in cases of emergency in case of children and hence the risk of accidents is higher.
7. Lack of proper knowledge on traffic rules and regulations.
Road safety rules and regulations take a back seat when it comes to the curriculum in developing countries. Further efforts are needed to create awareness on road safety rules and regulations among children. Children should also be discouraged to play on the roads.
8. Absence of traffic police at signals near schools
Lack of adequate personnel is a perennial problem which needs to be addressed soon. Several accidents that occur near the schools could have been averted if there had been enough traffic police personnel. Kids are often forced to cross roads without assistance in such cases which increase the risk. Absence of proper zebra crossings near schools adds to their woes.
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