Pedestrian Safety

Frantic parents brought their 4 year old son int to the clinic for a full exam for injuries. He had stepped out of his school van onto the busy road and was run into by a bicycle taxi. “He could have been hit by a car!” his father exclaimed. True. Kids have to go to school. They have to walk and cross busy streets. We need to do our part to teach them to be aware of their surroundings and be safe as they walk.

While doing research for the article about wearing seatbelts, I came across this retrospective study of motor vehicle accidents in Malawi. I found that 42% of the motor vehicle crashes were between a motor vehicle and a pedestrian. In a limited resource setting those walking have the greatest odds of death in a motor vehicle crash. It has made me very aware of the pedestrians all over the sides of the road and darting across the street. If you work with children, take time to teach them to follow safety guidelines while walking.

What’s Wrong?

This photo was taken on the main highway in Ghana. Note the broken down vehicle blocking the view of the children sitting on the side of the road and the overloaded vehicles.

Here are some Safety Tips for Pedestrians:

S: Stop, look right, look left, look right again before crossing the street.

A: Always pay attention.

F: Face traffic.

E: Encourage communities to take initiative for their children’s safety: install speed bumps and crosswalks. Lower speed limits in villages.

W: Walk quickly across the street, but don’t run. Wear bright colored clothing.

A: Acknowledge drivers. Make sure they see you and are slowing down or stopping before you cross the street.

L: Long, straight roads are the best place to cross.

K: Keep a hold of your children’s hands when walking, especially when crossing a road.

Activities to Reinforce Learning:

Act out what not to do: 

Two students are walking down the street talking to each other with their backs to traffic. Their little brother is picking up rocks on the side of the road, also not paying attention. Another student pretends to drive a car, speeding while talking on his cellphone.  He reaches down to pick up something and swerves into the three pedestrians. They all fall on the ground.


What mistakes did the pedestrians make? (Distracted. Didn’t hold the child’s hand. Not facing traffic.) What mistakes did the driver make? (Talking on phone. Distracted. Speeding.)

Act it out the safe way: 

This time the students hold the child’s hand and walk towards the traffic. Show how they step away from the road as they see the car is approaching.

Ask students to come up with and act out their own scenarios of safe vs unsafe road situations.


Locate a busy road that students can observe from a safe distance, preferably from a balcony or the second story windows. Have the students record and report safe and unsafe pedestrian and driver actions. Ask them, “If you were a community leader what changes would you make for safer road conditions for pedestrians?”

Here is a downloadable copy for teaching students:

Here is the journal article mentioned above:

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