When your child was young, you may have required him or her to hold your hand when crossing the street. Although your child may have grown beyond that need, there are still risks associated with crossing the street and walking near traffic. Teenagers typically have the capability to walk safely on their own, but they do not always make safe choices when walking.

Teenage pedestrians are prone to distractions and sometimes forget to look properly before crossing the road. They also may not recognize certain, high-risk situations. Your teenager may no longer need to hold your hand when walking, but he or she may benefit from periodic reminders about safe pedestrian behaviors.

Make sure your teen knows the rules

When talking with your teen about pedestrian safety, encourage him or her to pay attention to the rules pedestrians and drivers must obey when they encounter each other. This can help keep your teen safe when he or she is walking, but it can also keep your teen safe when he or she becomes a driver.

You can also remind your teen to:

  • Walk on sidewalks when available
  • Walk facing traffic when a sidewalk is not available
  • Look left, right and left again before crossing the street or a driveway
  • Obey all pedestrian crossing signals
  • Avoid distractions, such as texting, talking on the phone or listening to music, when walking

Help your teen identify risky situations

Your teen may not always be able to recognize high-risk situations, so it can be helpful to explain to your teen some of the situations that commonly contribute to pedestrian crashes. For example, when teenage pedestrians are hit by cars, it often occurs between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Generally, it is more difficult for drivers to see pedestrians when it is dark outside, so you might encourage your teen to minimize the amount of walking he or she does after dark.

Another common type of pedestrian crash involves a pedestrian darting out midblock where drivers do not expect to encounter pedestrians. When this occurs, a driver may not be able to see or react to a pedestrian until it is too late. This situation often occurs when a teen chases a ball out into the street, but without a reminder, your teen may not think about being a pedestrian when playing sports.

Teenagers are still developing habits that can stay with them throughout their lives. By taking the time to encourage safe walking behaviors, you can help your child develop habits that can keep him or her safe from pedestrian accidents throughout his or her life.