New Research Shows 87% of Studied Intersections Have Significant Hazards for Kids

National SAFE KIDS Campaign Teams with FedEx Express for International Walk to School Day

Source: National Safe Kids Campaign

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly nine out of 10 intersections studied have hazards that put children at risk as they walk to and from school, according to research released today by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign.

The research found that unsafe driver behavior and poor infrastructure are responsible for creating unsafe conditions. Of the signalized intersections SAFE KIDS studied, 87.3 percent have at least one of four common environmental and behavioral hazards that put children at risk as they walk to and from school. The four hazards are: drivers who fail to stop or stop and then turn illegally; crosswalks in poor condition or not present at all; posted speed limits during school hours of 35 mph or more; and curb ramps that are missing or outside the crosswalk.

Kids at the Crossroads: A National Survey of Physical Environment and Motorist Behavior at Intersections in School Zones examines conditions at signalized intersections near our nation's elementary and middle schools. A total of 102 intersections, 204 crossings and 3,640 vehicles were observed in 51 cities across 35 states.

Other findings include:

  • Nearly half (47.5 percent) of the observed intersections had crosswalk markings in poor condition, with some markings missing, or not present at all.
  • 30 percent of observed drivers stopped within or past the boundaries of crosswalks, obstructing the pedestrian crossing.
  • Almost 15 percent of observed drivers either passed straight through the crosswalk or stopped and then made an illegal turn.

Despite the fact that decreased rates of walking have contributed to a significant decline in child pedestrian deaths and injuries, pedestrian injury remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 5 to 14. Each year, more than 600 children ages 14 and under die from pedestrian injuries, and 44,000 children ages 14 and under suffer motor vehicle-related pedestrian injuries.

To address this problem, thousands of FedEx volunteers will join SAFE KIDS coalitions across the country on Wednesday, October 6. The day's events will educate students about safe pedestrian behaviors, identify pedestrian hazards and work with schools and communities to improve environments for child pedestrians, as part of International Walk to School Day.

"Teaching children pedestrian safety is a great start, but it's simply not enough," says Martin R. Eichelberger, M.D., president & CEO of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and director of Emergency Trauma and Burn Services at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. "We know that children under 10 are particularly vulnerable because kids can't fully comprehend hazardous conditions at intersections. That's why this program is working to curb unsafe driver behavior and improve infrastructure to help make walking to school as safe as possible."

For the fifth consecutive year, SAFE KIDS coalitions and chapters, concerned FedEx employees, transportation and law enforcement officials, and other safety advocates will heighten awareness in communities about hazards and environmental issues at intersections. These actions include assessing pedestrian conditions in residential areas, participating in school-based activities like International Walk to School Day and advocating for more funding for programs such as Safe Routes to School.

"Safety is always a top priority at FedEx," said David J. Bronczek, president and chief executive officer, FedEx Express. "Our operations have thousands of FedEx employees working in local communities every day, so it makes perfect sense to team up with SAFE KIDS on Walk this Way. Over the past five years, this program has had an enormous impact on child safety. We're raising awareness on a national level, and we've educated countless kids, parents and teachers in hundreds of cities across the country."

The national SAFE KIDS Walk This Way kick-off event took place Wednesday morning in New York City, where the Department of Transportation unveiled its Safe Routes to School initiative. The program will help students at 135 New York City schools map out the safest paths to and from school. One hundred children converged onto the New York City DOT's Safety City, where kids learn and practice safe pedestrian behaviors year round. For more information on local SAFE KIDS Walk this Way events, or for a copy of Kids at the Crossroads: A National Survey of Physical Environment and Motorist Behavior at Intersections in School Zones, contact the National SAFE KIDS Campaign at 202-662-0600 or visit http://www.safekids.org.

The National SAFE KIDS Campaign is the first and only national nonprofit organization dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury -- the number one killer of children ages 14 and under. More than 300 state and local SAFE KIDS coalitions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico make up the Campaign.

SAFE KIDS Walk This Way, a grassroots pedestrian safety initiative in more than 300 schools nationwide, is made possible through support from program sponsor FedEx Express. Through this year-round program, children learn safe pedestrian behaviors; school communities identify the pedestrian hazards surrounding their schools; and school pedestrian safety committees and task forces lead efforts to educate pedestrians and drivers about safe behaviors, enforce traffic laws and improve environments for child pedestrians.

International Walk to School Day is dedicated to walking to school with a purpose -- to promote physical activity, safety, health and concern for the environment. International Walk to School Day is promoted nationally by The Partnership for a Walkable America. http://www.walktoschool.org.


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