Hundreds of Kids Still Hit by Cars and Killed Each Year, Despite Sharp Decline in Pedestrian Death and Injury Rates

National SAFE KIDS Campaign Issues Report to the Nation and Teams With FedEx Express for International Walk to School Day (October 2, 2002)

WASHINGTON, Oct. 1 -- Child pedestrians are still at great risk of being seriously injured or killed, despite a sharp decline in the death rate over the last 10 years, according to a report issued today by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. That's why SAFE KIDS and FedEx Express are partnering for the fourth consecutive year to mobilize communities on International Walk to School Day to highlight pedestrian safety issues and continue their efforts to fix environmental dangers, especially near schools. Report to the Nation on Child Pedestrian Safety, an analysis of current pedestrian injury research and data from 1990 to 2000, was released in recognition of International Walk to School Day (October 2).

Among the key points:

* In 1999, 733 children ages 14 and under died, and in 2000, nearly 44,600 children were treated in hospital emergency rooms for pedestrian-related injuries.

* The traffic-related pedestrian death rate for children ages 14 and under declined 49 percent, and the injury rate declined 36 percent, from 1990 to 2000.

* Young children (ages 9 and under) have a pedestrian death rate 20 percent higher than children ages 10 to 14.

* Boys ages 14 and under have a pedestrian death rate 57 percent higher than girls.

* Forty-three percent of the child pedestrians killed in traffic- related incidents are hit after school and at dusk (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.).

* Eighty-one percent of traffic-related childhood pedestrian deaths occur at nonintersection locations.

* Thirty-seven percent of childhood pedestrian deaths among children ages 4 and under occur in nontraffic locations, including driveways, parking lots and sidewalks.

* Black children have a pedestrian death rate more than twice that of white children.

In a recent observational survey, SAFE KIDS also found that nearly 60 percent of parents and kids encountered serious hazards on their routes to school. Common hazards included a lack of sidewalks or crosswalks, wide roads, complicated traffic conditions, improper parking and speeding drivers.

"Walking to school should be a right of every child," said Heather Paul, Ph.D., executive director of the National SAFE KIDS Campaign. "Unsafe walking conditions are a local problem, and that's why we provide local solutions through our SAFE KIDS coalitions and FedEx Express."

On Wednesday, October 2, as part of International Walk to School Day, thousands of volunteers from FedEx Express will once again join SAFE KIDS coalitions at schools across the nation to teach students safe pedestrian behaviors, identify dangerous pedestrian hazards and work with school communities to improve environments for child pedestrians.

"Keeping children safe while walking to school or to a friend's house should be a concern for everyone," said David J. Bronczek, president and chief executive officer, FedEx Express. "FedEx Express takes safety very seriously. That's why FedEx is pledging our support to raise awareness of pedestrian safety across the country."

SAFE KIDS and FedEx Express call upon 500 SAFE KIDS coalitions and chapters, as well as other safety advocates, to work toward safer communities. Recommended actions include: assessing pedestrian conditions in residential areas, participating in school-based activities like International Walk to School Day, and advocating for more funding for programs such as Safe Routes to School.

To create long-term solutions, SAFE KIDS coalitions and FedEx Express employees are also spearheading year-round task forces around the country to identify improvements vital to child pedestrian safety. The task forces will include parents, educators and community leaders working together to fix the environmental dangers near schools, such as broken sidewalks and traffic lights, improperly marked crosswalks and speeding cars. They will also educate drivers and pedestrians about safe behaviors and work with police to enforce traffic violations.

In an effort to keep kids safe during the most dangerous hours (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.), program partner 3M is donating approximately 500,000 retroreflective stickers to be distributed to kids through SAFE KIDS coalitions across the nation.

For more information or for a copy of Report to the Nation on Child Pedestrian Safety contact the National SAFE KIDS Campaign at 202-662-0600 or visit http://www.safekids.org . To find local International Walk to School Day events, please visit http://www.walktoschool.org .

The National SAFE KIDS Campaign is the first and only national nonprofit organization dedicated solely to the prevention of unintentional childhood injury -- the number one killer of children ages 14 and under. More than 300 state and local SAFE KIDS coalitions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico comprise the Campaign. Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, M.D., Sc.D., is chairman of the Campaign.

SAFE KIDS Walk This Way, a grassroots pedestrian safety initiative in more than 120 communities nationwide, is made possible through support from program sponsor FedEx Express and program partner 3M. Through this year-round program, children learn safe pedestrian behaviors; school communities identify the pedestrian hazards surrounding their schools; and school pedestrian safety committees and task forces lead efforts to educate pedestrians and drivers about safe behaviors, enforce traffic laws and improve environments for child pedestrians.

International Walk to School Day is dedicated to walking to school with a purpose -- to promote physical activity, safety, health and concern for the environment. International Walk to School Day is promoted nationally by the Partnership for a Walkable America. http://www.walktoschool.org

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