Every Child Travels Safely

The mission of NYS PTA is to be a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for the education and wellbeing of every child.

The Every Child Travels Safely initiative will focus on transportation safety and see that children and caregivers increase safety in all aspects of child travel.


NYS PTA has proudly advocated for child safety issues in a number of traffic related areas for many years.  In our policy document entitled “Where We Stand” we have delineated our positions on many issues, including:

  • School bus stop vulnerability;
  • Penalties for passing a stopped school bus;
  • Scooter, skateboard and in-line skating protective gear;
  • Revising New York State Department of Transportation Child Safety Zone Point System;
  • Bicycle Helmet Law
  • Charter Bus Safety;
  • Identifying unsafe school crossings on state owned roads;
  • Traffic light installation at schools which are located on state owned roads;
  • Seat belt usage on school buses;
  • Safety items on school buses;
  • Change in the vehicle traffic law pertaining to stopped school buses; and
  • Monitors on school buses.

Pedestrian Safety

While there has been a decline in walking and biking to school,[4] there is still a significant minority who does walk or bike to school. Research shows that children who live closer to school buildings have higher rates of pedestrian and bicycling rate than others.[5]

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, 4,735 pedestrians were killed in traffic deaths in 2012 and more than 156,000 were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal injuries.[6]  These numbers continue to rise.

Unintentional pedestrian injuries are the fifth highest cause of injury-related deaths for 5-19 year old children and young adults.[7]  Teenagers have twice the death rate of younger children in pedestrian related accidents.[8]

The recent report, Alarming Dangers in School Zones (Oct 2016)[9] details statistics and observations that must be addressed:

  • Five teens are killed each week travelling as a pedestrian;[10]
  • 284 teens aged 12-19 were killed while walking;[11]
  • Pedestrian death rate for children and young adults ages 12-19 has increased 13 percent;[12]
  • Teens ages 15-19 make up half of pedestrian fatalities, yet only represent 26 percent of children ages 0-19 years old;[13]
  • 1 in 4 high schools students and 1 in 6 middle school students are distracted walkers;[14]
  • 44 percent of teens are likely to be wearing headphones while walking;[15]
  • 31 percent of teens are likely to be texting on their phones while walking;[16]
  • 80% of students  were observed using unsafe street crossing practices;[17]
  • Unsafe drop-off/pick-up practices at schools were observed in nearly 1 out of three drivers.[18]

The New York State Department of Health also keeps state records,[19] which paint a sobering picture of pedestrian safety.

  • 1.6 of every 100,000 New Yorkers or on average 312 deaths annually, are due to pedestrian related accidents;[20]
  • On average, 3,027 New York residents are hospitalized annually due to pedestrian-motor vehicle accident related injuries;[21]
  • 12,506 visits annually to emergency rooms are due to pedestrian-motor vehicle accident related injuries.[22]

Bicycle/Scooter/Helmet Safety

The New York Health Department also keeps records on bicyclist accident related deaths and injuries.[23]

  • From 2011-2014, there have been on average 36 deaths due to motor vehicle accidents involving a bicyclist.[24]
  • The highest rates for hospitalization stemming from motor vehicle accidents involving a bicyclist are for young adults ages 20-24 and the highest rates for emergency room visits were for teenagers 15-19 years old.[25]

Again, while there is a decline in children bicycling to school, there is still a significant minority of students using this mode of transportation – especially if the family lives close to the school building.[26]

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 15,000 children in 2013 were injured while bicycling or walking to school.[27]

Further, the risk for head injuries falls by 45% when children are wearing properly fitted helmets.[28] Sadly, less than 50% of children under the age of 14 usually wear a bicycle helmet.[29]


Personal Vehicular Safety and Car Seat Safety

Motor vehicle accident deaths continue to be a leading cause of death across our country and state.[30]

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death for school-age children. As example, 1,149 children under the age of 14 were killed nation-wide and 172,000 children under the age of 14 were injured as motor vehicle occupants in accidents in 2013.[31]

In 2015, 663 children under the age of 12 years old died as occupants in motor vehicle accidents.[32] In 2014 more than 121,350 children were injured in vehicular accidents.

Young drivers (ages 16-19) have the highest rates of crashes as compared to other age groups.[33] Accidents (not solely motor-vehicle accidents) continue to be the leading cause of death for ALL age groups of children and young adults in New York.[34]

  • Ages 1 – 9, 59 deaths in 2012 due to accidents (includes motor vehicle accidents), Rank 1 in ten leading causes of death by age group;[35]
  • Ages 10-19, 165 deaths in 2012 due to accidents (includes motor vehicle accidents), Rank 1 in ten leading causes of death by age group;[36]
  • Teenage children and young adults are more likely to be treated in emergency departments for crash-related injuries compared to any other age group.[37]

The New York Health Department also keeps records on motor vehicle accident related deaths.[38]

  • From 2012-2014, 1,098 deaths on average annually were related to motor vehicle accident related injuries.[39]
  • Teens ages 15-19 were in one of the highest categories for emergency room visits related to motor vehicle accidents.[40]
  • There have been, on average, 292 deaths of vehicle occupants due to traffic accidents, with highest rates for young adults 20-24 years old.[41]

Further, car seat safety and correct usage is critical to save lives and prevent injury.

The Centers for Disease Control found that in one year alone, more than 618,000 children under the age of 12 were occupants in vehicles without the appropriate use of a child safety seat, booster seat or seatbelt.[42]

Alarmingly, for those children who died in a motor vehicle accident in 2015, 35% of them were not appropriately buckled or restrained.[43] Further, even when car seats are used, 73% of car seats are not installed or used correctly.[44]

Caregivers often fail to realize that a child should be in a car seat, and then a booster seat, until they are at least 4’9” and/or 80-100 lbs.[45]

According to the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration, school busses continue to be one of the safest modes of transportation,[46] yet this may be unknown to caregivers.


Public Transportation Safety

In many areas of our state, children are taking public transportation to and from school. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children discuss safety for unaccompanied children using public transportation.[47]

While the Metropolitan Transportation Authority discussed general rider safety, there is little focus on child rider safety for parents, families and children.[48]

Thankfully, the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee has information[49] on safe public transportation for children and families, but there are few other resources for families.


Regional Events

NYS PTA will implement a multi-pronged approach to educate parents, families, children and schools on child transportation safety and host 10-12 events regionally, free to parents and educators.

  • Events will feature speakers and/or workshop presenters who are knowledgeable child traffic safety experts
  • Educational materials will be distributed at each event for attendees
  • NYS PTA will attempt to collaborate with local law enforcement and others to offer car seat checks, bicycle rodeos and/or other appropriate events

Public Service Announcements across state

  • NYS PTA will create promotion videos for distribution  in media, online, and to parents, families and schools across New York State
  • NYS PTA will create print advertisements and announcements for similar distribution
    Educational Materials creation, distribution and instruction
  • NYS PTA will create (with collaboration) relevant materials for multiple publications

 


[1] http://nyspta.org/AboutPTA/AboutPTA_Purposes.cfm
[2] http://nyspta.neric.org/AboutPTA/AboutPTA_Regions.cfm

[3] New York State Congress of Parents and Teachers, Where We Stand (2017), see here: http://nyspta.neric.org/pdf/Advocacy/WHERE-WE-STAND.pdf
[4] Safe Routes to Schools, The Decline of Walking and Bicycling, see here: http://guide.saferoutesinfo.org/introduction/the_decline_of_walking_and_bicycling.cfm
[5] Id.
[6] National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts 201 3: Pedestrians, see here: https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811888
[7] Safe Kids Worldwide, Pedestrian Safety, see here: https://www.safekids.org/walkingsafelytips
[8] Id.
[9] Alarming Dangers in School Zones (October 2016), see here: https://www.safekids.org/sites/default/files/alarming_dangers_in_school_zones.pdf
[10] Id.
[11] Id.
[12] Id.
[13] Id.
[14] Id.
[15] Id.
[16] Id.
[17] Id.
[18] Id.
[19] New York State Department of Health, Motor Vehicle Traffic Crash Statistics: New York State Residents, see here: https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/prevention/injury_prevention/traffic/county_of_residence.htm#pedestrian
[20] Id.
[21] Id.
[22] Id.
[23] New York State Department of Health, Motor Vehicle Traffic Crash Statistics: New York State Residents, see here: https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/prevention/injury_prevention/traffic/county_of_residence.htm#bicyclist
[24] Id.
[25] Id.
[26] See Id. at footnote 2
[27] Id.
[28] Safe Kids Worldwide, Bike – The Hard Facts, see here: https://www.safekids.org/bike

[29] Id.
[30] AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Motor Vehicle Crashes, Injuries, and Deaths in Relation to Driver Age: United States, 1995 – 2010, see here: https://www.aaafoundation.org/sites/default/files/2012OlderDriverRisk.pdf
[31] See Id. at footnote 2
[32] Center for Disease Control, Children Passenger Safety: Get The Facts, see here: https://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/child_passenger_safety/cps-factsheet.html
[33] See Id. at footnote 26
[34]New York State Department of Health, Office of Quality and Patient Safety, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Leading Causes of Death, New York State, 2012, see here:

https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/vital_statistics/docs/leading_causes_of_death_nys_2012.pdf
[35] Id.
[36] Id.
[37] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/
[38] New York State Department of Health, Motor Vehicle Traffic Crash Statistics: New York State Residents, see here: https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/prevention/injury_prevention/traffic/county_of_residence.htm#all
[39] Id.
[40] Id.
[41] Id.
[42] See Id. at footnote 28
[43] Id.
[44] Safe Kids Worldwide, Car Seat Safety Tips, see here: https://www.safekids.org/car-seat
[45] Safe Kids Worldwide, Booster Seats, see here: https://www.safekids.org/safetytips/field_risks/booster-seat
[46]National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, School Busses, see here: https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/school-buses
[47] National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, When your child is travelling unaccompanied by bus or train, see here:  http://www.missingkids.org/en_US/publications/NC77.pdf
[48] Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Riding Safely, see here: http://web.mta.info/safety/
[49] Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee, Public Transportation Safety Kids Page, see here: http://www.safeny.ny.gov/Kids/kid-tran.htm