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Kids dart. Drive smart.

An innovative child safety campaign targeted at motorists relies upon the support of the community, asking individuals, organizations and businesses to display eye catching yard signs, with the goal of protecting millions of children as they walk and bike.

Riley Hospital for Children, a nationally recognized children’s hospital, is partnering with Kohl’s, AAA Hoosier Motor Club, 16 hospitals and physicians throughout Indiana in Kids dart. Drive smart., a unique grassroots campaign reminding adults to slow down, to stay alert and to focus while driving.

Driver distractions or inattentive driving play a part in an estimated one out of every four motor vehicle accidents, a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found. For every two seconds a driver takes his or her eyes off the road, the chances of having an accident double, according to the Automobile Association of America.

The 2009 Kids dart. Drive smart. campaign is being rolled out now as the back-to-school season traditionally brings a significant increase in the number of children injured as they walk, run or bicycle.

Several factors contribute to this dramatic increase in injuries and, too often, in fatalities:

    Distractions

  • When children walk or ride to school, they often become distracted as they socialize with friends, think about the school day, get used to new routines and are oblivious to the cars or trucks around them.
  • While driving, teens and adults can become distracted while texting and/or talking on a cell phone, applying makeup, eating, smoking, reading, writing or even picking something up from the floor.

    After School Activities

  • After school, children may dash outside to enjoy the warm weather and remaining sunlight.

    Increased Traffic

  • During the school day, increased traffic in and around schools as children walk or ride bikes, adults drive in the area to drop off their children or go to work, and buses transport children.

To help keep kids safe, Riley Hospital and its partners are making Kids dart. Drive smart. yard signs available at no cost, while supplies last, for neighborhoods, schools, churches, businesses and homes in an effort to raise awareness, engage the community and significantly reduce child pedestrian injuries. This year, over 40,000 yard signs will be distributed in approximately 30 cities and towns. For a comprehensive list of pick-up locations, visit www.KidsDart.org.

Kids Dart yard signs feature children running and playing as a reminder that it is often difficult for children to accurately judge the distance of an approaching vehicle and that kids will dart from between parked cars while playing.

“The entire community plays an important role in decreasing child pedestrian injuries. Since we have started the Kids Dart campaign, we have placed signage in some of our most dangerous pedestrian areas, as well as locations where children typically play,” said Joseph O’Neil, M.D., M.P.H., developmental pediatrician, Riley Hospital for Children. “This program helps all of us to be more aware and attentive for our children.”

In 2007, more than 42,000 children were injured as pedestrians in the United States. From 1999-2006, Clarian hospitals, including Riley Hospital for Children, treated 733 children aged 17 and younger for pedestrian injuries. Nationally, children 5 to 9 years of age sustain the highest percentage of pedestrian injuries. At Clarian, however, 10-14 year olds (30 percent) sustained the highest percentage of injuries.

“We hope that seeing the Kids Dart signs across the state will get everyone thinking about the role we can all play in preventing child pedestrian injuries,” said Dr. O’Neil, who is an associate professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

During the inaugural campaign in 2007, more than 5,000 Kids Dart yard signs were distributed in the Indianapolis area, with demand exceeding supply. In 2008, Riley Hospital expanded the campaign by engaging hospital partners in eight Indiana cities and distributed almost 19,000 signs.

The Kids dart. Drive smart. campaign is a unique call to change to combat a serious problem and keep children safe. For additional information and printable tips on child pedestrian safety, visit www.KidsDart.org.