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'Do No Harm' Driving Long Over Due

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 02 September 2014 17:18

Why did the mother and her children cross the road? For that matter, why did the father and his kids cross the road?

The chicken crossed the road to get to the other side, according to the old joke, but safely crossing the road is no joke with so many stress-provoked, phone-distracted car drivers and pedestrians out there.

What's your point when you cross the street with your young children?

Yes, you want to get to the other side, but that should not be your main goal. Time and again, I see mothers and fathers haul their kids across busy streets at mid-block because the parent is in a hurry, late, lazy, or distracted by a smartphone.

My point? The prime purpose of crossing the road with your children is to demonstrate to them how to cross a street as safely as possible whatever distracted drivers are doing. By repeating the experience every time you cross together ("Look left, then right, then left again) they will have deeply ingrained self-preserving life habits that surface when you are not there.

Usually, real estate buyers look at crime statistics when deciding on a "safe" neighborhood to raise their children. Traffic patterns and speeds should be included in that "safe" definition. Don't you want your family to be just as safe out walking and biking in the neighborhood as they are at home?

Parents have so few precious minutes of their children's full attention that mothers and fathers should make sure they always give their full attention to their children, especially when away from the relative safety of home.

STOP repeating "well, accidents happen" like we are powerless to save lives. Accidents like getting hit by a car are really unintended injuries and are preventable.

STOP expecting "do as I say, not as I do" thinking to impress anything on your kids—they consider themselves too smart for that to work. When you brazenly jay-walk, dragging your children into traffic with whatever excuse you're using for endangering all your lives and not crossing at the traffic lights or crosswalk, you've lost valuable credibility.

STOP giving the mobile screen more attention than you do your children when you go for a walk together. Demonstrate how aware of surroundings you can be and they must learn to be.

STOP expecting teachers and schools to teach 100% of the street smarts each of your children, at every age and stage, need to stay alive and safe when crossing the street, navigating a parking lot, or walking on a country road. You are their front-line defense, responsible for pounding in safety rules by repeating them Every Time You Cross The Street With Your Kids.

STOP thinking more about where you want to be than where you are when you're a pedestrian or a driver. Explain what you are doing to your children and why all of you must commit to thinking about crossing the street beforeyou step off the curb, while you're in traffic, and until you safely reach the other side.

Recently a six-year-old girl was hit by a car and killed in the neighborhood she lived her whole short life. Summer camp was ending for the day and in the pick-up frenzy of parents, cars, and kids, this little girl was in a hurry to be on the other side of street - she did not get there. Many reasons for her death. No excuse.

The New York City Vision Zero Project cites these glaring statistics as impetus for its pedestrian-death-reduction initiative: "Being struck by a vehicle is the leading cause of injury-related death for children under 14, and the second leading cause for seniors. On average, vehicles seriously injure or kill a New Yorker every two hours." Are the statistics dramatically different for your community?

Around the world, parents, residents, and politicians are targeting speed limits and ticketing policies to save the lives of pedestrian of all ages and sizes.

When drivers concentrate on driving safely and drive at slower speeds, fewer pedestrians are hit and more of them survive their injuries.

Traffic reduction in residential areas is vital as is enforcement of traffic regulations governing turning times and other restrictions.

What can you do to ensure every pedestrian in your family and network of friends is safe on community streets no matter what speed distracted drivers travel at? Although studies cite 53% of pedestrian fatalities are caused by dangerous choices made by drivers, 30% of deaths are attributed to dangerous pedestrian choices and 17% to cases where both make dangerous choices at once.

Pedestrians have a lot of room to become smarter than drivers. They just have to keep their eyes, ears, and brains focused on what is going on around them. Too many pedestrians have spent their last seconds of life intent on their music or their mobile screen before the car or bus they did not see cut them down.

Treat streets as Danger Zones requiring your full attention:

  • Construction forces drivers on to unfamiliar, often residential, streets and the resulting congestion raises speeds and tempers, turning cars into dangerous weapons for pedestrians not on their guard.
  • Residential street speeds and full-stop signs are rarely enforced, so expect the worst from drivers and act accordingly.
  • Hesitate before stepping off a bus to look out for cars and vans trying to squeeze around the vehicle.
  • Act like you are at great risk when crossing from between parked cars, because you are.

What point do you want your children to have top of mind when they cross the street without you?

Perhaps, our moto as drivers could be borrowed from the doctors who try to save traffic victims. Think "do no harm" while you concentrate on safely driving our streets.

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PJ Wade

Futurist and Achievement Strategist PJ WADE is “The Catalyst”—intent on Challenging The Best to Become Even Better. A dynamic speaker and author of 8 books and more than 1800 published articles, PJ concentrates on the knowledge, insight, communication prowess, and special decision-making skills essential for professionals and their clients who are determined to thrive in the 21st-Century vortex of change.

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