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Child Care Lessons: Safely Crossing the Streets

Crosswalk Pedestrian Bicyclist

Crosswalks are not as safe as you might think in urban areas. Photo by Wikis Take Manhattan 2008

It’s one of the first, universal, real-world safety lessons we learn as humans: how to safely cross a road. And one of the few things that even people who are not parents or caregivers know to teach children: look both ways before crossing the street.

44% of those injured in the street were inside of the crosswalk

I was surprised recently when I saw a news report on a study in New York City about pedestrian and bike safety. Despite our best intentions, some of the lessons we teach children about safety will not protect them from harm. For example, 6% of trauma cases at one New York City hospital the pedestrian was on the sidewalk. Shockingly, 44% of those injured in the street were inside of the crosswalk. Nearly 10% self-reported that they were using electronics when injured.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 70,000 pedestrians were injured … in 2010

Clearly, these problems are concentrated in crowded metropolitan areas. But, I am certain that they are a concern for rural and suburban areas as well.

Does this change the way that early childhood educators and caregivers should teach children? No. But I think it reinforces how we teach children to cross the street. Lessons like “look both ways” can grow to “look both ways, even before crossing the street in a crosswalk.” Or even more than ever before for youth “Put away your portable electronics before looking both ways, even while in the crosswalk.”

This is likely already part of the core curriculum at your child care center but I found the following to be useful references for teaching young children:

Have you already incorporated these safety lessons in your child care center? Have you had to update them or is this something that you feel is settled?

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Jeff is the Director of Marketing and Co-founder of BumbleBee Childcare Software. He lives in Cambridge, MA, in the United States. You can hear more from Jeff on Twitter and Google +.

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