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Male Drivers are Hitting, Killing Most Child Pedestrians, New Study Shows

Rates down 40% for child pedestrian fatalities, but motor vehicle/pedestrian crashes are still second leading injury-related killer of children ages 5-14

WASHINGTON, Oct. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Male drivers are behind the wheel twice as often as female drivers in incidents where a child pedestrian is killed, with 18-year-olds most frequently doing the driving, a new study released by Safe Kids USA shows.

Although pedestrian injury remains the second leading cause of injury-related death to children ages 5-14 -- an average of one child dying per day in crashes with motor vehicles in the last five years -- the total number of children ages 14 and under who are killed as pedestrians decreased by 40 percent from 1995 to 2004. The pedestrian injury rate for children ages 0-14 declined by 29 percent over that same period.

"While we're happy to report that fewer kids are being injured and killed by motor vehicles, we still have a long way to go," said Moira Donahue, pedestrian program manager at Safe Kids USA, and an author of the Latest Trends in Child Pedestrian Safety study. "Clearly some of the safety programs that Safe Kids and other organizations conduct are having an impact, but losing a child a day is too many."

Which children are most vulnerable?

The study showed that boys (60 percent) are more likely than girls (35 percent) to be killed in motor vehicle/ pedestrian crashes. Although there has been significant reduction in the death rate in each age category, children ages 0-4 are at the highest risk. Children aged 5-9 had the most significant decline (34 percent) in death rates from 1999-2004.

Male, American Indian and Alaskan native, and black children have disproportionately higher rates of pedestrian death and injury, while female, white and Asian children have the lowest rates of any demographic.

"Children who are at a higher risk of being injured or killed as pedestrians are more likely to live in urban or high-density areas or in low-income households," Donahue said. "In contrast, those at lower risk tend to live in areas of lower density and in households of higher socioeconomic status."

One reason why the numbers are down across all categories, Donahue said, could be that the percentage of children walking to school has plummeted, from 42 percent in 1969 to just 16 percent in 2001. Donahue cited the top reasons parents do not allow their children to walk to school as the distance from home to school, traffic-related concerns, weather, and crime.

Who is behind the wheel in fatal crashes?

The report, which examined driver data involved in pedestrian crashes with children ages 0-14 for the first time, found that drivers ages 16-25 have been involved in more incidents where a child pedestrian was killed than any other age group. Males are at the wheel during incidents that result in a child pedestrian fatality more than twice as often as females.

Eighteen-year-old drivers accounted for 4 percent (68) of the child pedestrian deaths over the five-year period studied, Donahue said, more than any other age driver.

"We don't know exactly why this particular age group is involved more," she said. "We plan to use this data to explore their behaviors and try to reach out to young drivers to see if we can have an impact on the number of children being injured and killed."

Other findings include:

-- Children ages 2, 13 and 14 accounted for the highest number of

pedestrian deaths during the five years studied.

-- The largest reduction in fatality rates was shown in children

ages 5 to 9, which declined at twice the rate of children ages

0-4 and 10-14.

-- After school hours and dusk remain the most dangerous times for child

pedestrians, with 55 percent of fatal incidents occurring between

3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

-- More than 80 percent of the fatal incidents occurred in areas other

than intersections.

-- Incidents resulting in child pedestrian fatalities are highest during

May and October.

-- Mexican children made up 14 percent of all pedestrian deaths, despite

making up only 9.5 percent of the overall population.

-- The death rate for black children is more than 50 percent higher than

white children.

Safe Kids USA recommends that children not be allowed to cross streets alone until they are at least 10 years old. Parents must also remind kids to:

-- Cross streets safely. Cross at a corner, using traffic signals and

crosswalks. Try to make eye contact with drivers before crossing in

front of them. Look left, right and left again when crossing, and keep

looking as you cross. Walk, don't run, across the street.

-- Walk on sidewalks or paths. If there is no sidewalk, walk on the left

side of the street, facing oncoming traffic. Children should walk on

direct routes with the fewest street crossings.

-- Be a safe pedestrian around cars. Watch for cars that are turning or

backing up. Never dart out into the street or cross between parked


For more tips on how to keep children safe while out walking, visit

Safe Kids Worldwide is a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent accidental childhood injury, a leading killer of children 14 and under. More than 450 coalitions in 16 countries bring together health and safety experts, educators, corporations, foundations, governments and volunteers to educate and protect families. The Safe Kids Walk This Way program was created by Safe Kids Worldwide and FedEx in the United States in 1999 to bring awareness to children pedestrian safety issues.

SOURCE Safe Kids Worldwide
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