IAM Warns Drivers to Watch Out for Distracted Youngsters

IAM Warns Drivers to Watch Out for Distracted Youngsters

The Institute of Advanced Motorists has warned drivers to be aware of the increaing hazard of youngsters distracted by smartphones on their way to and from school.

They are often so absorbed in texting, Tweeting or Facebook, as well as by listening to music, that they are unaware of traffic.

The IAM believes the greatest risk comes on the way home from school where under 16’s are more likely to be distracted by playing with their friends, listening to music or interacting on social media on their phones.

Department for Transport’s THINK! research showed that 62% of 11-16 year olds admit to being distracted by talking to friends as they cross the road, a similar number had to stop a friend from having an accident by either pulling them back or calling out, and 36% of girls and 25% of boys say they get distracted by using their mobile phones.

Another report entitled Stepping Out found children are more likely to be injured in spring and summer (excluding August) and more likely to be injured as pedestrians on weekdays at morning and afternoon school times. It also found the age at which pedestrians are most at risk is 12 years old.

The research showed while there were peaks in casualties between 7 and 9am (15% of child pedestrian casualties being in this two hour period), there was an even greater peak between 3 and 5pm (nearly 23% during these times) suggesting that while children may be driven to school, they make their own way home in the afternoon – making this a more crucial time for drivers to be aware of young pedestrians.

The IAM also urged drivers to be more vigilant in rural or remote areas, as the findings showed 70% of child casualties were injured on sections of road not at or near a pedestrian crossing.

The charity also offered a series of tips towards ensuring everyone remains safe during rush hour as the schools return.

  • Don’t compromise your concentration and the safety of other road users by being in a hurry. Leaving the house five minutes earlier changes the nature of how you make the journey.
  • Take extra care to compensate for the fact that children won’t always be paying attention, especially when approaching the school gate.
  • Never stop on the yellow “zig zags” by the school gate, and always ensure you let your passengers out on the pavement side.
  • Roads surrounding schools are usually 20 mph- it’s essential that you slow down and keep an eye out for children crossing the road and emerging from between parked cars.
  • New starters in reception class are unlikely to understand the dangers that the road outside their school presents – bear this in mind when driving nearby and keep your eyes peeled for children wandering into the road alone.
  • If your children are walking to school on their own, make sure they are aware of potential hazards such as crossing busy roads – encourage them to always use the pedestrian crossing if there is one.

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