Lutheran Children's Hospital is partnering with Riley Hospital for Children to launch the Kids dart. Drive Smart. campaign in Allen County. Kids dart. Drive Smart. is a concentrated effort to engage the community and encourage drivers to reduce their speed during the summer and back-to-school months - a time of year when more children are injured while playing and bicycling.
From Aug. 1 through the end of September, local residents may pick up a free Kids dart. Drive smart. yard sign at any Allen County fire station while supplies last.
Kids dart is a unique grassroots program designed to protect child pedestrians. Whether walking, riding bikes, rollerblading or running, children have the right of way. Kids dart is designed to remind adults that children are at play and to slow down to help keep them safe.
"A new school year is just a few weeks away, which means many children will be flocking to and from bus stops and schoolyards," said Melanie Heath, executive director, Lutheran Children's Hospital. "With all the activity taking place at different times during the day, drivers need to remember that children may not always be focused on looking both ways. We're encouraging everyone to slow down and be the childrens' eyes and ears."
The 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, often times, children will dart into the street from between parked cars while playing.
Research has shown that, while children may be keenly aware of the danger automobiles present, younger children have not fully developed their depth perception. That can lead to kids running out into the street and in front of vehicles with little time to get out of the way.
More than 44,000 child pedestrians were injured in the U.S. during 2006, the most recent year for which figures are available. From 1999-2005, the nation saw 7,299 pedestrian fatalities among children 17 years of age and younger. Indiana children accounted for 128 of those deaths.
Last year, more than 5,000 Kids dart. Drive smart. yard signs were distributed throughout the city of Indianapolis as part of Riley's inaugural campaign.
This year's campaign has grown to include statewide partners, coalitions and referring physicians in which more than 20,000 yard signs are expected to be distributed. In addition to the signs that will be on display locally, television and radio spots will also reinforce the importance of watching out for kids at play.
The Kids dart campaign is a unique call to combat a serious problem and keep children safe. To find out how to get involved or for printable tips on child pedestrian safety, visit LutheranChildrensHospital.com .
Local sponsors of Kids dart. Drive smart. include Lutheran Children's Hospital, Riley Hospital for Children, WAJI Majic 95.1 FM, City of Fort Wayne, Allen County Fire Chiefs Association and New Haven Print & Copy.