As a parent, you probably already know how independent preteens try to be. Your preteen child may be starting to make more of his or her own choices, such as what to wear, what activities to participate in and how to get around.
Your child may be too young to get a driver’s license, but your child is probably interested in taking responsibility for his or her own transportation needs. As a result, your child may spend a fair amount of time as a pedestrian. Although preteens may not need the supervision that younger children require when walking, they can benefit from periodic reminders about safe walking habits.
Safe walking habits to encourage
Although your child may roll his or her eyes at basic safety skills, it is important that he or she obeys them when walking. When you talk with your preteen, try to encourage him or her to:
- Walk on sidewalks when they are available
- Walk facing traffic when a sidewalk is not available
- Cross the street at crosswalks or intersections
- Look left and right before crossing the street
Remind your preteen to remain alert when walking
Although it may be less obvious, your preteen should also avoid visual and auditory distractions, like a phone or music, while walking. It is important for your child to hear and see the surroundings and nearby traffic. This allows him or her time to anticipate any potential problems and get out of the way in time to avoid them.
One common type of crash between pedestrians and cars occurs when a vehicle is backing out of a driveway or parking stall and the driver does not see that there is a pedestrian behind the vehicle. If the pedestrian is paying attention to his or her surroundings, he or she may hear the vehicle idling or see the car beginning to back up, which might allow him or her to jump out of the way.
A crash can also occur when a pedestrian is crossing the street and a vehicle turns into the path of the pedestrian. Again, the pedestrian might be able to get out of the way in time if he or she is paying attention. Although drivers have a responsibility to look for and stop for pedestrians, it is safest for your child to assume that drivers cannot see him or her unless the driver comes to a complete stop or acknowledges your child.
If your child is struck by a vehicle while walking, it may be appropriate to seek justice. Pedestrians are often severely injured when they are hit by vehicles, and you may be able to receive compensation for his or her medical expenses and other costs associated with the injuries.