When a Child Is Struck by a Car, the Area of Greatest Injury Depends on Many Factors

December 1, 2019 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
When a Child Is Struck by a Car, the Area of Greatest Injury Depends on Many Factors More than six hundred child pedestrians are killed by motor vehicle crashes each year. This figure doesn't even begin to account for the injuries and traumatizing memories that thousands more (and their families) must endure thanks to senseless driver negligence. Children's inability to calculate risk and make decisions quickly places them at serious risk of falling victim to accidents like these. A wealth of factors can influence how, where, when, and why a child may be struck by a car. One-off factors like poor road or driving conditions cause a considerable number of injuries and deaths every year—some of those include child pedestrian injuries and deaths. Habitual distracted or aggressive driving patterns can also lead to motorists failing to promptly notice child pedestrians. There's a more nefarious side to child pedestrian accidents, too. Unfortunately for concerned parents, child-friendly destinations have actually been linked to an increased likelihood of children falling victim to vehicle accidents. Research old and new suggests that the higher concentration of children in areas like these accounts for an increase in child pedestrian accidents. If your child has been involved in a pedestrian accident contact the skilled car accident attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA to discuss your legal options.

Child Pedestrian Accident Statistics

The statistics associated with child pedestrian deaths and injuries are staggering. Parents and caretakers across the nation could be well-served by some thought—do any of these facts and figures apply to your child? Do you need a Child Injury Attorney?
  • Children ages 0-2 receive the highest number of industries as pedestrians; this age group is also most likely to be injured in driveways
  • The death rate for teenage pedestrians is twice that of younger children and teen pedestrians account for up to half of child pedestrian deaths
  • Reduced visibility in the evening contributes to a sizable percentage of child pedestrian deaths
  • Young boys account for over half of US child pedestrian fatalities
  • Adolescent children face additional risk due to walking at night or walking while intoxicated or distracted
  • Children with cognitive or attentional deficiencies face greater risk
  • Eighty percent of child pedestrian deaths take place at non-intersectinon locations

3 Reasons Why Children are at Increased Risk of Cars Hitting Them?

1. Walking for Transport

An eight-year-old can't very well drive him or herself to school. Many children today walk for sheer practicality; it's a form of transportation for them. Whether a child is headed off to class or they're trying to cross a neighborhood street to get to a park, they're relying on their legs for transportation. The average American adult is in a dissimilar position. Unless you live in a highly concentrated or urban area, there's a high likelihood that you rely on your car to take you everywhere. Child pedestrians face a risk of car accidents simply because many of them have to be near roadways to reach their intended destinations.

2. Visibility Issues

Small children, in particular, face an increased risk of experiencing a crash due to a lack of visibility. Toddlers' tiny stature allows them to easily go unseen behind a reversing vehicle or in front of a parked one. This is one reason why many small children who fall victim to these accidents are often backed over or run into in driveways. Older children pose another unique challenge: adolescents and teens tend to have a penchant for walking at dusk or even at night. When visibility is naturally reduced, drivers and pedestrians can begin to run into trouble quickly. Young teens and older children may not have the presence of mind to take advanced safety measures (like wearing reflective clothing) that adults may choose to rely on.

3. Lack of Knowledge Concerning Road Safety and Familiarity

There's a reason we don't allow children to drive on our roadways. Did you know that children cannot accurately judge the distance or speed of an oncoming vehicle until at least age ten? Children's cognitive and mental capabilities don't extend nearly as far as ours. Sometimes drivers fail to account for this. Children also tend to be less familiar with the roads and general area that surrounds them than their adult counterparts. If a child is confused or lost, he or she may not be paying ample attention to the road and drivers around them. Children may wander into danger while looking for landmarks or may find themselves lost in unfamiliar territory, putting them at increased risk.

The Area of Greatest Injury: A Gambling Game

There's no surefire way to predict which part of a child pedestrian's body will sustain the greatest injury during a vehicle accident. Analyzing current medical knowledge, crash data, and other crucial info can offer some insight into which factors tend to have a heavy influence on the area of greatest injury:
  • If the vehicle was traveling at high speeds there's a high likelihood the child sustained broken bones, which can occur all over the body
  • Larger vehicles can cause more damage than their smaller counterparts; injuries and impacted areas of the body may vary significantly between a victim of a semi-truck accident and a victim struck by a sedan
  • A child's physical size also impacts where they receive the most serious injuries. This factor, in tandem with vehicle size, can offer some of the clearest insight into which areas of the body may be most negatively-impacted during a crash
  • where their body is hit and how much force is behind the vehicle at the time of the accident
The most life-threateningly severe injuries found in child pedestrians tend to involve the head and thorax. Because children and adolescents tend to be so much shorter than adults, the top portions of their bodies often bear the brunt of the damage in pedestrian accidents. Other factors—like those mentioned above—can also play a significant role in determining injury location and severity.

3 High Risk Areas For Child Pedestrians

Understandably, there are certain places where child pedestrians are at increased risk of falling victim to an accident. Many of these tend to be areas like parks and schools. Due to higher concentrations of children near locations like these, the likelihood of any one child being struck by a vehicle increase.

1. Parks

A study conducted at the University of Colorado found that children near parks face a serious risk of being struck by a vehicle. Researchers determined that children near parks are actually more likely to be struck by vehicles than children near schools. In fact, study data indicates that child pedestrian accidents occur with 1.04 to 2.23 times more frequency near parks than near schools. Parks also lack safety measures that traditionally child-centric places—like schools—already have in place. School zones feature specialized pedestrian crossings and reduced speed limits. Parks are not afforded this same level of safety during planning, design, and construction.

2. Driveways

Unfortunately, we've all heard the sensationalized stories of parents or family members causing a child's untimely demise. Most of these stories sound the same. They begin innocently enough—a parent may be backing their large SUV out of the garage before heading out for an evening grocery run, for example. This picture takes a much darker turn fairly quickly. Before the parent can recognize their surroundings or make sense of what's happening, they find their vehicle moving over some sort of object. In all too many cases, that object is actually a small child. Our visibility is reduced greatly when we're in dark, cramped garages; focus drops when errands and the mess that's taking over your storage space. It takes a split second to make a costly mistake—and children tend to be the victims in cases like these. If you can't manage to get a good view behind you while you back up, consider asking another adult to guide you out of your driveway. It's good policy to make sure that you can see any children who may be present in the area before beginning to move.

3. Schools

It's not difficult to understand why child pedestrian accidents occur near schools. While children don't tend to face as much danger near schools as they do near parks, that doesn't mean that accidents are impossible. National Safety Council data points to a large proportion of children being struck by vehicles near schools. Traffic flow and rules near schools can be frustrating and confusing for drivers and children alike. Many drivers neglect to obey reduced school zone speed limits, which places nearby children in danger. Some children and adults fail to recognize the rules that surround school bus loading and unloading as well. Vehicles that attempt to pass buses at inappropriate times or children who fail to check their surroundings before offloading present unique risk. Many schools also have crossing guards or other adults intended to help make school zones safer for drivers and child pedestrians alike. Some drivers fail to grant these individuals any authority—ignoring a crossing guard's commands could lead to serious injury (or even death) for a student trying to get across the street.

Preventing Child Pedestrian Accidents

The fortunate news is that parents, childcare professionals, and the public alike can take steps to improve child pedestrian safety. A wealth of research has been conducted with the sole aim of determining how to ensure children are safe on and near our roads. The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration published a brief guide concerning how parents and the public can advance child pedestrian safety. This effort to call child pedestrians' risk to light offered a few steps that could help save a child pedestrian's life. While recognizing our national dependence on motor vehicle transportation, the guide promotes children's right to walk safely. The FHA's report cites two critical goals: reducing children's risk of injury while walking and creating an environment more friendly to pedestrians. Many efforts could contribute to these aims. The FHA, however, calls upon readers to focus on a select few:
  • Enhancing public awareness concerning child pedestrian safety...
    • ...through the coordination of national, state, and local public information campaigns
    • ...with an emphasis on how engineering solutions can enhance safety, the effectiveness of traffic law enforcement, and the rights of pedestrians as road users who need to be safe in traffic
  • Modifying driver and pedestrian attitudes...
    • ...through the development of strategies to increase respect for pedestrians and improve sharing the road
    • ...by teaching the public about the dangers of excessive speed and encouraging them to support the enforcement of posted speed limits (especially in residential areas and school zones)
    • ...by developing programs to educate drivers and parents when it comes to the limitations and abilities of children as traffic pedestrians
  • Modifying the physical environment to be more favorable to pedestrians...
    • ...by encouraging policies, laws, ordinances, and practices to integrate pedestrian safety into planning
  • Developing and conducting safe-walking programs...
    • ...with heavy community support
    • ...that reflect community needs
    • ...that emphasize pedestrian safety
    • ...with the input of teachers, school administrators, parents, pediatricians, and other childcare providers
  • Identify risk factors for child pedestrian injury...
    • ...through surveillance used to measure injury rates, quantify walking amounts, etc.
    • ...and develop local risk factor surveillance systems

A Car Accident Attorney Can Help

Matthew Dolman, Florida Personal Injury Attorney
Matthew Dolman, Child Pedestrian Accident Attorney
Sometimes, avoiding an accident is next to impossible. If you or a loved one have been impacted by a child pedestrian accident, you deserve peace of mind. Partnering with a skilled and trustworthy lawyer is one way to position yourself for success. Not only can an attorney help clarify legal processes for you, but they may also be able to assist you in procuring monetary compensation for your losses. Many families and caretakers of child pedestrian accident victims find the time following the accident to be rife with emotions and confusion. Don't allow the stress of pursuing legal recourse to cloud your vision and obscure your priorities. Your child and your family's wellbeing always come first. Don't waste your time or energy figuring out which step to take next to receive damages; speak with an experienced car accident lawyer today to understand what to do next. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 N Belcher Rd Clearwater, FL 33765 Phone: (727) 451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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