Walking Gets Risky For Teens

A new 15-year report shows the number of pedestrian accidents for teens is going up. Anecdotal evidence suggests the cause could be cell phones.

The report, called Walking Safely, was issued by nonprofit organization Safe Kids Worldwide. It looks at 15-year trends for child pedestrian injuries. Kate Carr is President and CEO of Safe Kids and says the report shows good news and bad news.

“The good news is that overall the child pedestrian death rate and injury rate is down, by 53 percent for deaths and 44 percent for injuries. However, as we look deeper at the numbers, we discovered that kids who are between 16 and 19 are at a greater risk. The injury rate for teenagers has gone up.”

The rate of accidents among teens increased 25 percent over the last five years. The most risk used to be associated with children between five and nine years old. But Carr says cell phone use by drivers, and also by teens may be the cause of that spike in pedestrian injuries to older kids.

“Parents, don’t stop talking to your kids about walking safely when you think they’re old enough to be out there on their own. Remind your teenagers, if you have to text, just stop. Stop for the few seconds that it’s going to take you to send that text message. And if you’re walking with your headphones, take your headphones out when you’re crossing the street.”

Here in Houston from 2009 to 2011, officers reported 2,660 pedestrian crashes. Eight percent of those involved teens.

Not surprisingly, September is the worst month for child pedestrian crashes. Summer vacation is over, kids are back in school and more people are on the roads.

“We know that there are more kids hit in the month of September than any other month of the year. And those injuries occur in greater numbers in the late afternoon, between three and six p.m. — twice as many kids are hit than at any other time of the day.”

The report shows that while walking is generally safer for kids than it was 15 years ago, there are still 61 children who get hit by cars every day in this country.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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