In a recent tragedy in March 2018, pregnant Broadway star Ruthie Ann Miles witnessed the death of her four-year-old daughter in a pedestrian accident. A 44-year-old woman lost control of her car during a supposed seizure, and hit Miles as well as three other pedestrians at Ninth Street and Fifth Avenue. A second woman, Miles’ friend, was injured, and her 1-year-old son also died. The two children were both pronounced dead at the scene.
Miles, a Tony Award winner for her performance in the 2015 Broadway revival of The King and I, was walking with her daughter Abigail at the time of the crash. Her unborn child survived, and the actress was said to be in stable condition at New York Methodist Hospital, healing after the tragedy.
Sadly, children being injured and dying in pedestrian related car accidents is not an uncommon occurrence.
Children are at very high risk while walking, biking, or in car accidents. A joint study between Safe Kids Worldwide and FedEx called Walking Safely, A Report to the Nation examined 15-year trends in child pedestrian injuries and deaths in the U.S. The report showed that “while walking safety has improved overall for children since 1995, there are still a staggering number of children hit by cars. More than 61 children are injured every day severely enough to seek medical attention. More than 500 children are killed every year.”
While school zone improvement programs have greatly helped to ensure child safety overall, children are still incredibly vulnerable on the road. The beginning and end of school, June, August, and September, are the highest months for child-related car accident injuries. Unfortunately, with the rise of distracted drivers who are busy staring at their iPhones, walking on the road has become more dangerous. “Unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth leading cause of injury-related death in the United States for children ages 5 to 19,” said Jesus Alderete, senior injury prevention coordinator at Children’s Health.
SHOULD YOU LET YOUR CHILD WALK IN NEW YORK?
Urban environments, like New York City, are definitely more dangerous for children. In fact, several scientists used NYC child pedestrian injury data from 1991-1997 to determine to study trends in child pedestrian injuries in an urban setting! Fatality rates were found to be the highest for 5 to 9 year olds, but children under 5 were at greater risk of death if injured. Most accidents happened on Fridays, and injuries increased overall in the summer. However, weekday injuries increased during the school months.
Walking to school can be a very beneficial activity for kids in terms of physical activity and getting fresh air. It can also be an incredibly exciting time for them to assert their own independence. However, as parents, you should definitely sit your kids down and discuss the dangers and rules with regard to road safety. Remember to reinforce these rules in everyday life before letting kids go out on their own, if you feel comfortable letting them go at all. It is important to remember that kids view traffic differently than adults. Children:
- Can’t accurately judge the speed or distance of vehicles because their peripheral vision is two-thirds that of an adult.
- Have a harder time knowing where sound is coming from.
- Are very easily distracted.
It’s a good idea to start practicing in quiet and safe areas and gradually allow kids to make the decision of when and where to cross the road. It is also a good exercise for us as adults to bend down to our child’s eye level and understand their point of view, to get an idea of what they see and what they can’t see.
Lastly, it’s absolutely vital to discuss traffic as you go. New York State has many tips for child pedestrian safety. Let your children know the dangers and risks, and how anything that can go wrong could go wrong. Teach them all the laws of the roads. Help them figure out which places are best for crossing the street and why. Example: ideally, at a crosswalk or away from parked cars where the view is crystal-clear and you can walk straight across.
However, even if you are careful and your children are following every traffic law, some drivers still don’t take the time and pay enough attention to keep every pedestrian safe, as happened in the case of Ruthie Ann Miles. If your child was injured in a car accident, our attorneys might be able to help you get justice. Please contact The Case Handler team at Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco, LLP by dialing 929-223-4195 for a free case evaluation.