Statewide child safety campaign warns drivers: Kids dart. Drive smart.

LAFAYETTE, Ind. — August 10 marked the kick-off for the statewide child safety campaign, Kids dart. Drive smart. The campaign, initiated by Riley Hospital for Children in 2007, provides campaign signs to the public free of charge to place in their yards warning drivers to stay alert for children playing outdoors.

Clarian Arnett Health has purchased more than 5,000 signs for the Greater Lafayette community. The public is encouraged to visit Lafayette and West Lafayette fire stations to pick up a sign for their yard.

Clarian Arnett Health has purchased more than 5,000 signs for the Greater Lafayette community. The public is encouraged to visit Lafayette and West Lafayette fire stations to pick up a sign for their yard.

To support this initiative, Clarian Arnett Health has purchased more than 5,000 signs for the Greater Lafayette community. The public is encouraged to visit Lafayette and West Lafayette fire stations to pick up a sign for their yard. The signs are a reminder to drivers that children are at play and to slow down and stay alert.

This unique grassroots effort is designed to protect child pedestrians, who are frequently injured by motorists. August marks the return to school for most children, bringing them outdoors to walk to and from school and to play outside after a long school day spent inside. This “Back to School” season results in a significant increase in children injured as pedestrians or bicyclists.

From 1999-2006 there were 4,789 pedestrian fatalities due to motor vehicles among children 17 years of age or younger in the United States. Indiana children accounted for 87 of these deaths. Deaths only tell part of this story, however, it is estimated that in 2007 more than 42,000 children were injured as pedestrians.

The 2009 campaign has added a new dimension, campaigning against the distraction that texting while driving causes. According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, 78 percent of all motor vehicle crashes involve a driver distracted within three seconds before an accident. Distracted driving includes texting while driving. There are approximately 250 million cell phone users in the United States, and in the first half of 2008, 95.4 billion text messages were sent, equaling almost 530 million per day. Texting while driving significantly increases the probability of having an accident.

To take part in this community initiative to spread awareness of child pedestrians, pick up a yard sign at your local fire station and remind others that Kids dart. Drive smart.

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