Children Are Especially Vulnerable Pedestrians

Pedestrian Accidents in OhioThe summer months are ending, which means that children are getting ready to make their way back to school. School buses and motor vehicles will be lined up outside of schools, dropping off and picking up children all over Columbus.

While this is an exciting and refreshing time for children, teachers, and parents, it can be a nerve-wracking time as well, as children are at risk of being victims of pedestrian accidents. This is the most dangerous time of year for young students, according to a new report by AAA. From their recent press release:

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 64 percent of child pedestrians killed in traffic crashes in 2021 occurred between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Friday

A new AAA survey reveals that many drivers admit to risky behaviors like speeding and using a handheld mobile phone while driving through a school zone. The survey found that 34% of Minnesota drivers admitted to speeding in an active school zone, and 21% admitted to using a hand-held cell phone while driving in an active school zone.

Why are children more vulnerable than adults when it comes to pedestrian accidents?

We hear about adults being struck by cars often, which does not mean that they do not suffer serious injuries. However, when a child is struck by a vehicle, they are much more likely to die at the scene or pass away soon after. The reason for this is because children’s bodies are a lot smaller than adults. Therefore, when they are hit by a motor vehicle, the force and impact can be extreme for their bodies even if the vehicle was going at a slow speed. Due to their height, children are also more likely to be hit in their head, neck, and chest area, which can lead to head and skull injuries, brain injuries, whiplash, and other injuries that often lead to serious complications for many years to come or even death.

Younger children are also very difficult to treat because they often cannot explain to their parents, teachers, nurses, or doctors what is bothering them, what hurts, or if they feel any discomfort. The doctors must spend extra time on children to make sure that they locate all possible injuries and treat them appropriately. If any severe injuries are missed and left untreated, the child may suffer long-term complications or even die from their injuries.

Another reason children are so vulnerable is because certain types of injuries can compound over time. If an adult man suffers a leg fracture in a car accident, assuming it is a clean break, that man should fully recover. But if a child sustains a fracture over a growth plate, his or her leg may not develop correctly. This can lead to one leg being shorter than the other, which can lead to other problems.

One significant concern is brain trauma. Damage done to a brain, especially a developing one, may not be fully repairable. That damage can affect every part of the child’s development. Research and studies on pediatric concussions show that children who suffer TBIs may be less likely to reach their developmental and educational goals, suffer from long-term mental health conditions, and are more likely to die young.

How often are children killed in pedestrian accidents?

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 177 children ages 14 and younger were killed in pedestrian accidents across the country in 2020.

We fear, however, that these numbers will only rise. An article published in the Journal of Safety Research in 2022 reports that “children are eight times more likely to die when struck by a SUV compared to those struck by a passenger car.” Research shows that SUVs are among the most purchased vehicles: “over 52 percent of automobiles purchased in 2021 were SUVs, more than two to one over sedans. The first four months of 2022 showed that 72.9 percent of all cars purchased were either SUVs or pickups.”

Ironically, many people purchase SUVs and larger vehicles specifically because they have children; it’s easier to transport them and all their “stuff” (as well as their friends) when you have a larger vehicle.

What are common causes of child pedestrian accidents in Columbus, OH?

There are many different causes of pedestrian accidents. However, some causes are more common for children than adults, such as:

  • Backover car accidents: Children are very susceptible to backover accidents. They are known to play or walk around vehicles in driveways and parking lots. However, because of their small frame and size, drivers usually cannot see them when they are backing up. Sometimes, backup cameras will notify you, but it may be too late by the time the camera identifies that a child is in your car’s rear area.
  • Children darting out in front of cars: Children do not typically know or understand what may be dangerous to them. Therefore, even if an oncoming car is approaching very quickly, they may drop their ball and want to immediately chase after it. This commonly happens near parks, in neighborhoods, and in school zones, which is why you should drive very slowly through these areas regardless of what the posted speed limit says.
  • Speeding in neighborhoods or school zones: School zones usually have their own speed limits to encourage drivers to slow down and prevent children from being struck by cars. Many neighborhoods also have signs that state that children are playing in hopes that drivers will drive at a slow speed until they have passed through the area. However, some drivers may be distracted while driving, causing them to miss these important signs. As a result, they may continue to speed through neighborhoods and school zones, putting many children at risk of being hit by a car.

Safety tips to help avoid accidents this school year

Whether you have a child attending school or not, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of a pedestrian accident:

  1. Remain alert and focused behind the wheel at all times: You never know when a child may be passing by or be tempted to run out in front of your vehicle.
  2. Drive very cautiously near schools, libraries, parks, playgrounds, and neighborhoods: When driving through certain areas of Columbus, drive very cautiously as children may be playing or walking around. Some of the most common areas that children are near are schools, libraries, parks, playgrounds, and neighborhoods.
  3. Always check your blind spots, cameras, and your surroundings before backing up: Children frequently run and play behind cars in parking lots, neighborhoods, and driveways. You should always check your blind spots, cameras, and your surroundings before putting your car in reverse.
  4. Do not solely depend on your cameras: While you may think that technology is up to date and will notify you if a child is behind or around your vehicle, you cannot solely depend on cameras during these situations. Sometimes, cameras do not work, or the sensors may not pick up the child’s small frame. You should always use your own eyes to ensure that no one is behind or around your vehicle.
  5. Follow the posted speeds at all times: Driving over the speed limit can put children and other pedestrians at great risk of being injured by a car. Therefore, you should always follow the posted speeds. You may even want to drive below the posted speed in certain areas to avoid hitting children.

If your child was involved in a tragic pedestrian accident, the Columbus pedestrian accident lawyers at Soroka & Associates are here to assist you. Our team takes these cases very seriously and believes that no parent should ever have to go through this. Therefore, we will do whatever it takes to hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligent actions. Call our office or submit our contact form to schedule your free case evaluation today.