Heads-Up on Teens and Pedestrian Safety

By the time your child reaches his teen years, you’d think you no longer have to worry about him safely crossing the street. Think again.

The teen pedestrian death rate is twice that of younger children and accounts for half of all vehicle-related pedestrian deaths according to Safe Kids Worldwide.

pedestrian safety tips

They have years of maturity and physical development over the younger kids, so why are twice as many teens dying from vehicle-related pedestrian injuries? About half of those injuries may be attributed to “distracted” walking.

According to a 2014 Safe Kids Worldwide study of 1,040 teens, half reported crossing streets while distracted by mobile devices. Of the teens who had actually been hit or nearly hit by a vehicle:

• 47 percent were listening to music
• 20 percent were talking on the phone
• 18 were texting

“Texting while walking is not a good idea, but headphones are especially distracting,” said CHOC Children’s Community Educator Amy Frias, who is also the Safe Kids, Orange County coordinator. “Headphones put kids into their own zone when they should be more aware of their immediate surroundings.”

Additionally, more teens who had been hit or nearly hit reported crossing streets in risky ways. They were more likely to attempt crossing from the middle of the street or from between parked cars, instead of at an intersection or using a crosswalk.

Safe Crossing at Every Age

Unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth-leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 19 in this country. Since opening in January 2015, the CHOC Children’s Trauma Center has treated pedestrian injuries in eight children ages 3 to 12 years. The most common times of day these injuries occurred: before school and in the early evening.

Whether your child is 6 or 16, these important safety tips could be lifesaving:

Put down all the devices — Insist your child pay full attention whenever walking on sidewalks or roads.
Cross only at intersections and crosswalks — Make eye contact with the driver before stepping into the street.
Be as visible as possible at night — Light-colored clothing helps make it easier for drivers to see your child.
Instruct teen drivers to check behind their cars before backing up — Be extra careful and take a moment to make sure a small child is not playing or walking behind your vehicle.
Set a good example — Children under age 10 should cross the street with an adult. When walking with your child, explain how you always follow traffic safety rules, too.

The Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC Children’s is home to Orange County’s first pediatric-focused trauma center. Serving children ages 14 and younger, our specially trained physicians, surgeons, nurses and respiratory therapists are available around the clock to provide immediate intervention and care for traumatic injuries.

Download this pedestrian safety tip sheet.

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Home Safety Tips Every Parent and Caregiver Must Know

Children under the age of 5 are at the greatest risk of hurting themselves in the home because that is where children spend most of their time learning and growing. Forty percent of unintentional injuries occur in and around the home. The good news is that most of these injuries can be prevented.

Just in time for National Trauma Awareness Month in May, please be sure to check out the following injury prevention tips:

home safety


  • Put a lock on the medicine cabinet to help prevent a poisoning.
  • Put a toilet lock on toilet lid to help prevent drowning.
  • Turn down hot water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to help prevent scalds and burns.

Child’s Room

  • Move furniture away from windows to help prevent falls.
  • Wind up or cut blind cords to help prevent strangulation.
  • Always use straps on changing table to help prevent falls.
  • Always place baby on his/her back to sleep.
  • Remove soft bedding and stuffed animals from cribs to help prevent suffocation.

Family Room

  • Use window stops or locks so windows do not open more than 4 inches to help prevent falls.
  • Put corner protectors on tables with sharp corners to help prevent injuries from falls.
  • Keep toys and small objects away from children to help prevent choking.
  • Install outlet protectors in all outlets to help prevent electrocution.


  • Always strap your child in a high chair to help prevent falls.
  • Cut all round-shaped foods into small pieces to help prevent choking (hot dogs, carrots, grapes).
  • Install stair gate to help prevent falls.
  • Put sharp objects in a locked drawer to help prevent cuts.
  • Keep all buckets stored upside down to help prevent drowning.
  • Keep emergency phone numbers including Poison Control by the phone. Poison Control 1-800-222-1222.

For more safety tips around the home, visit our community education page.

Learn more about pediatric emergency and trauma services at CHOC.


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