If you have grandkids or other young children whom you sometimes watch, keep a close eye on them in parking lots: Many adult caregivers don’t, putting the children at increased risk of being struck and injured or even killed by a car, according to a study in the Journal of Safety Research.
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham observed 124 children ages 2 to 10 and their adult supervisors as they crossed a parking lot from their vehicle to a community recreation center. They found that more than two-thirds of the children were unsupervised at some point between the vehicle parking and the child entering the building; 90 percent were out of arm’s reach of the accompanying adult at some point; and over half exited the vehicle prior to the adult.
The researchers also noted that the majority of the children did not follow basic safety practices such as looking to the left (74 percent) or right (87 percent) when crossing parking lot thoroughfares, possibly because they didn’t perceive the crossings as risky or assumed that the adult in charge would keep them safe.
Smartphones were among the distractions that kept the adults from focusing completely on the children, the authors noted. Some 5,000 child pedestrians are injured each year—and more than 200 killed—from collisions with vehicles in non-traffic locations such as parking lots and driveways, according to government estimates. Parking lots pose a particular risk to children under 5 years old.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see Defensive Walking 101.