Pedestrian Safety for Students

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Lesson 1:
Part 2. The Research and a Class Discussion

Introduction and Goals
Lesson 1:
Part 1
The N.Y. Times Article
Lesson 1:
Part 2
Dr. Renshaw's Presentation
Lesson 2: The Scientific Method
Lesson 3:
Our Research
Lesson 4: The Walkable Studies
Lesson 5: Collating the Data-Using Excel
Lesson 6:
Our Projects
Web Sites

We began our search by watching Dr. Renshaw's presentation on Pedestrian Safety. This is a wonderful place to begin learning about safety. I urge you to download and preview before you share it with your students. I guarantee a lively discussion!

Right click here to download the ppt file to your computer

I prepared the students before we began because this is NOT pleasant information. I was not showing this presentation to scare the children. As we watch this together, I was you to think about why this is so important. "What you'll see is a presentation prepared by a surgeon for other doctors. I'm showing this to you because it is a study which affects us!" They watched it and later analyzed the information. This PowerPoint presentation is based on the study, "Prevention of Childhood Pedestrian Trauma" which appeared in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery in 2002.

QUESTION: What were the most surprising facts you learned from this presentation?

You will discover that. . ..
"Pediatric trauma in the USA kills more children than all diseases combined. There are as many as "22,000 deaths" a year!.
(In my classroom, there was a collective gasp when we read this!)

The Ten Most Common Causes of Childhood Trauma:
Pedestrian accidents
Bicycle accidents
Falls from heights
Scald burns
Flame burns
Smoke inhalation

Young children are more in danger of pedestrian trauma because:
They can’t tell where sounds come from
They can’t judge how fast traffic is moving
They have a field of vision 1/3 that of adults
They don’t recognize danger or react to it
They think of cars as friendly, living creatures

Child Pedestrian Injuries are the 2nd leading cause of death in ages 5-9, behind cancer and account for 30-50% of all trauma hospitalizations.

But. . . there is good news. . .
In New Haven, where Dr. Renshaw conducted his study, "Child pedestrian injuries in New Haven, CT have been reduced by 61% over a six year period."
In the year, 1992-93 there were 223 injuries.
Following the implementation of reforms suggested by the study six years later, in 1998-99, these injuries were reduced to 87.

"Child pedestrian injuries and deaths can be reduced without political battles and without changing the intractable problems of poverty and over-population. You can do this in your community!"
We took Dr. Renshaw's directive seriously. We set about to take on the safety of the children in our school. Though we did not feel that we could change housing patterns, as in the original study, the students never doubted that they could have a positive impact on our community.

This hits home!
The class could hardly be contained following this presentation. Almost every student knew at least one place near school where a car accident had occurred. They independently suggested photographing these "dangerous" places in the neighborhood, which we did. Though we were all shocked by the fact that pedestrian injuries accounted for so many hospitalizations, we were not surprised that this is a serious safety problem in the inner city. We thought it would be a good idea to try to interview a crossing guard and a community officer from the local precinct to find out about pedestrian accidents. They asked these community experts about ways they could help children cross streets safely. "What is the biggest problem you have with children pedestrians?" "What would you include in a safety program for children?" The students wanted to try to get statistics from the local hospital, just like Dr. Renshaw had. My students, fifth graders, provided many insights into this problem. They were concerned with drivers who talk on cell phones and don't always notice children. They worried about large trucks, ambulances, drivers who don't seem to be concentrating, and lights which don't provide enough time to cross. "When young children watch cartoons," they told me, "they begin to think that cars and buses are friendly. Even if one struck them, they think they can just get up.. . like a cartoon character."

Our first discussion... . Observations:
March 8, 2003
Car accidents in the neighborhood involve children because:
Trucks not noticing young children
Drivers should be more careful
Drivers with cell phones don’t notice children
We should take pictures of dangerous places
Not enough time to cross the street
Cars going on through stop light
Not concentrating while drivers driving
One student handed me a note as he left class. "Can we do a Class Science Project like this?" This information definitely hit home!
Project: How can we decrease the amount of child car accidents?
Students were asked to make observations as they walked to and from school. This would soon become more formalized when we used the
walkable checklist which we downloaded from this site. The students began thinking of ways they could gather data. Could we get statistics? Who could we speak with who could provide information?

Dr. Renshaw's quotation was already beginning to ring true. . . “Never doubt that a small group of people can change the world, in fact it’s the only thing that ever has.” …… Margaret Mead

Todd Schuetz at the American Academy of Orthopedic surgeons in Rosemont, Illinois was kind enough to fax the actual study to me. A press release about the study can be accessed here. I was constantly amazed how generous everyone was with information and time.