Why Are Teenagers Often Involved in Pedestrian Accidents?

In 2017, 1,699 pedestrians in Tennessee experienced traffic collisions (405 in Davidson County alone). A large percentage of these pedestrians were likely children and teenagers, based on statistical trends. Pedestrian accidents are the fifth-leading cause of death for children and teens ages five to 19, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. Why are teenagers so prone to involvement in pedestrian accidents around the country? Take a look at factors that may increase the risk of these collisions.

Walking to School

Teenager pedestrian accidents and deaths are increasing around the country. From 2013 to 2016, pedestrian death rates for those 12 to 19 years old increased by 13%. In 2015, teens ages 15 to 19 made up almost half of all pedestrian deaths nationwide, although making up only 26% of children from zero to 19 years old. One study that observed teenagers walking to and from school found that teens distracted by headphones or cellphones were more likely to get into collisions. It also found that 80% of teens were guilty of unsafe street crossing (e.g. jaywalking or walking without a signal).

Poorly Designed Crosswalks

The lack of safe crosswalks in school zones in Tennessee may be contributing to teenage pedestrian collisions. It is the city’s responsibility to design roadway infrastructures that optimize the safety of both drivers and pedestrians – especially in school zones. Installing proven traffic signs and crosswalks, setting lower speed limits (under 20 miles per hour), educating parents and students, and enforcing school zone policies could all help reduce the number of injuries and deaths in the streets.

Unsafe Student Drop-Offs

Unsafe drop-offs and pick-ups from school contribute to teenage pedestrian accidents – a behavior Safe Kids Worldwide observed a surprising in one in three drivers. Parents have a responsibility to obey school and roadway rules when dropping off or picking up teenagers. Stopping in the middle of the road and picking students up before or after the designated zone can increase the risk of a collision.

Texting and Walking

Pedestrian distraction is a major factor involved in vehicle collisions. With the rise of the smart phone, distraction while walking has become an even more prominent issue around the world. The same Safe Kids study observed that at least one in four teens and one in six middle-school students walked to school while distracted by something. Walking while distracted may seem harmless until a teenager doesn’t notice an oncoming car or a “Do Not Walk” signal. Stepping out into the road without paying attention could be fatal.

Distracted Teenage Drivers

School zones at high schools are dangerous for pedestrians for another reason: inexperienced adolescent drivers. Teenager drivers are at higher risk of distracted driving. They are also more likely to exceed posted speed limits and break other roadway rules. Cellphones, passengers, food, or other things can distract teen drivers arriving or departing schools – increasing the risk of colliding with other teens walking to school. Teaching teenage drivers never to drive distracted can help reduce the rate of these collisions.

Negligent Adult Drivers

Driving in school zones can make some adult drivers impatient or angry – resulting in collisions with crossing teens or students getting on and off of buses. Speeding through school zones, ignoring right-of-way rules at intersections and crosswalks, and making unsafe lane changes around stopped buses are all teenage pedestrian accident risks. Driving too fast or aggressively near schools, playgrounds, or parking lots is a serious issue that’s taken thousands of young lives.

Walking to school is a common activity for children and teenagers, but it’s not without its risks. Unsafe crosswalks, speeding drivers, and distracted teens can culminate in disaster. Keep your teen and others safe through pedestrian accident education and safe driving/walking practices.