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Lutheran Children’s Hospital and Riley Remind Drivers to Stay Alert near Children and Pedestrian Areas

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Aug. 11, 2009) — Lutheran Children's Hospital is once again partnering with Riley Hospital for Children to launch the Kids dart. Drive smart. campaign in Allen County. Kids dart. Drive smart. encourages drivers to reduce their speed in areas where children play and live, including driveways.

From Aug. 10 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 grassroots program designed to protect child pedestrians. Whether walking, riding bikes, rollerblading or running, children have the right of way. The campaign is designed to remind adults that children are at play and to slow down to help keep them safe.

"Adults and children need to be reminded to be careful around streets and vehicles," said David Smith, MD, medical director of Lutheran Hospital's level II pediatric trauma center and pediatric surgeon for Lutheran Children's Hospital. "We need to set a good example of following the rules of the road. We encourage everyone to slow down to keep our children safe as they play outside and walk to and from school."

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.

As families prepare to return to school, after school hours pose the greatest threat to children. In fact, 36 percent of all child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 and 7 p.m.

Research has shown that, while children are aware of the danger automobiles present, younger children have not fully developed their depth perception until the age 10. 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 1999-2006, the nation saw 4,789 pedestrian fatalities among children 17 years of age and younger. Indiana children accounted for 128 of those deaths.

Last year, nearly 20,000 signs were distributed throughout Indiana. This year, statewide partners, coalitions and referring physicians will give away more than 35,000 safety signs to Hoosiers. Lutheran Children's Hospital is distributing 3,500 signs throughout Fort Wayne and surrounding areas, the next highest number to Indianapolis.

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, Kohl's, Boys and Girls Club of Fort Wayne, City of Fort Wayne, Allen County Fire Chiefs Association, Indiana State Police, Indiana's NewsCenter and WAJI Majic 95.1 FM.


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