Why Are So Many Children Hit By Cars In Fort Worth?

dreamstime_xs_76135020My heart goes out to the North Side families of a 2-year-old girl who died yesterday and a 3 year-old boy who was killed last week when cars hit them.

The little girl was crossing the street in front of her house west of the Stockyards when a drunk driver hit her Sunday evening.  The man has been charged with intoxication manslaughter.

The little boy was chasing his ball not far away in a neighborhood just off of Jacksboro Highway when he was struck. The driver didn’t even have a license. The collision happened in a cul-de-sac, so investigators said speed was not a factor. But even at a slow speed, a vehicle can seriously injure or kill a pedestrian.

In March, an 8-year-old girl on a scooter in front of her house died after being struck in east Fort Worth.

That’s a horrifying statistic: three children killed here in our streets in two months.

There seems to be no end in sight to pedestrian injury cases.

More than 5,000 pedestrians of all ages are struck and killed by vehicles each year. A whopping number of them (550) died in Texas in 2015.

I was just hired to represent a 7-year-old girl who was critically injured when she was hit by a truck in southwest Fort Worth several weeks ago.

And I’m going to court next week to finalize the case of a young girl seriously injured when she was crossing in front of a stopped school bus in north Fort Worth.

Like any personal injury lawyer, I have unfortunately represented many pedestrians and their families who have suffered injuries and deaths. Here are a few things I have learned about these devastating injury cases.

Children Are More Likely to Be Killed By a Car 

Children remain a higher than average percentage of these pedestrian deaths until they are 15 years old. For children ages 5 to 9 years old, getting hit by a car is the third leading cause of death.

Why are kids at greater risk of traffic fatalities? A study by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) explained some of the reasons.

First, as any parent knows, kids are easily distracted. Their natural sense of curiosity is how they learn. But that same quality can get them into trouble, especially when coupled with their innate spontaneity.

Then there is their small size, which makes them less visible to drivers and more prone to serious injuries than a full-grown healthy adult when struck.

However, the primary risk factor is surprising. Children haven’t yet developed the ability to see and avoid looming objects. This skill becomes second nature to adults. If something is coming toward us, we jump out of the way. Yet this simple reaction is actually very complex, according to the AAP researchers.

When an object is coming toward an adult, we make a rapid calculation of its size, velocity and distance and account for our own walking speed and individual motions. We base our seemingly simultaneous decision as to how to avoid danger on these numerous complex factors.

Children, on the other hand, have yet to develop this crucial survival skill. The neural mechanisms for perception grow with age. The older a child gets, the more adept he becomes at calculating danger of a looming object.

Drivers, Be Careful of Children as Summer Break Approaches

The standard speed limit in residential streets in Texas is 30 or 35 mph and school zones post speed limits at 20 mph. These speeds are apparently too high to keep young children safe.

In a strange paradox, faster speeds appeared less dangerous to children. A child may not detect an object travelling toward him at more than 20 mph. The ability to perceive the object was reduced if the car was slightly to the side, which would be highly likely in a real life roadway scenario.

Most Dallas and Fort Worth schools let out the first week in June. This means more kids will be in our residential streets during the day.

Drivers:

  • don’t take it for granted that a child will see your car, even if you are moving at a slow speed and even if he is looking straight at you,
  • be particularly careful when travelling past parked cars, hedges or other obstructions, as a child can dart out at any moment, and
  • put away your cell phones.

And parents, please don’t let your children run into the road.

Related post:

Vehicle and pedestrian deaths skyrocket in Texas

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