Close to half of teens hit or nearly struck by car when walking

40 percent of teens say they've been hit by a car or were almost struck, according to a survey.

It may come as a surprise that a considerable number of young people in the country have been hit or nearly run into by a motorist when walking, according to a new report from Safe Kids Worldwide.

Approximately 40 percent of teens say they've been struck by an automobile before or were close to this happening, based on polling analysis done by Safe Kids Worldwide, which surveyed approximately 1,000 boys and girls between 13 and 19 years of age.

Of course, those hit or almost hit were fortunate enough to survive, but many aren't as lucky. The report noted that the death rate for teens is nearly three times higher than children between 5 and 12. Additionally, specific to 2012, nearly 500 boys and girls 19 and under die after being hit by an automobile while walking. Of these, nearly 60 percent were 13 or older.

Kate Carr, CEO and president of Safe Kids Worldwide, indicated that part of this may have to do with the frequency with which teens use their handheld and wireless devices to talk with friends or relatives. In other words, instead of paying attention to what's in front of them, they often have their heads down sending or reading a text message.

"Even though we all know about the dangers of texting when walking or driving, it is still a common practice, especially for teens," said Carr. "This is a trend we simply must stop."

Pedestrian safety tips

Safe Kids Worldwide noted that parents can help protect their teens by reinforcing the message that they should never use a handheld device while crossing the street or walking on the side of the road. Additionally, instead of walking in a crosswalk just as soon as cars come to a stop, teens should try to catch the attention of the driver. Once they catch their eyes, then they can proceed.

Last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration took steps to try to improve pedestrian safety by making grants available to cities with the highest rates of incidents involving walkers being hit. In 2011, more than 4,400 people were killed after being hit by a car, an 8 percent increase from 2009.

This shouldn't suggest that people should never walk to and from their destination, but just heighten their awareness. Plus, walking more frequently may help policyholders save on car insurance by reducing the number of miles they put on their vehicle.