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Why children are a high risk for pedestrian accidents

Parents who live near busy streets worry about it all the time: kids running into traffic and being hit by cars. It's a nightmare scenario, and it's all too common, considering that car-related injuries are the third-leading cause of death for those who are between five and nine years of age.

kids crosswalk.jpg

The reasons kids are so often killed by cars are many. For one thing, their small size means they're in more danger when they are struck. An accident that may have merely broken an adult's leg could leave a child with traumatic head injuries. Even if the sheer amount of accidents were the same, kids would be at greater risk.

Another problem is distraction. Kids' minds bounce around. They're thinking about a lot of things, and safety may not make the list. A child who sees a basketball bounce into the street could run after the ball with a single-minded purpose, just trying to retrieve it as quickly as possible. He or she may literally never think about cars or the danger of darting into the road.

Some experts have also pointed at children's less-developed skills in terms of perception and data processing. For instance, a child may see a car coming down the street but be unable to determine how fast it is traveling or how much time he or she has before it arrives. It's something adults often take for granted, having done it for years, but children have to learn this skill.

Many accidents involve all of these factors and more. When negligence or reckless driving are also involved, the parents of kids who are hit and killed or badly injured must know if they have a right to financial compensation.

Source: Psychological Science, "Why kids get hit by cars," accessed May 23, 2017

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