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California takes steps to improve pedestrian safety

Pedestrians have it rough these days. The streets aren't really built with them in mind, and the large number of big cars -- supersized sports utility vehicles -- on the road make it perilous out there for people to just cross the road. There's particular concern regarding schoolchildren, many of whom need to cross busy roads on their way to and from school.

California is taking steps to make things a little better, at least around five Benicia schools and two more in Vallejo, both in Northern California. The Safe Routes to Schools (SR2S) Pedestrian Improvement Project is doing things like installing high-visibility yellow crosswalks, pedestrian-actuated flashing beacons, installing or widening sidewalks, upgrading the lighting in pedestrian tunnels and installing wheelchair-accessible curb ramps to make areas around those schools safer for pedestrians and drivers alike.

If you're a parent of a young child, however, you need to take steps to make sure that your child understands the "rules of the road" before school starts this fall. Here are some tips:

  1. Talk about traffic signals. When you drive, make sure that your child notices and understands the difference between red, yellow and green traffic lights. When you take your child for a walk, show them the "Walk" and "Don't Walk" signs as you cross the streets.
  2. Train them to stop and look. That may be the number one safety step they need to take -- and they should never just rely on the traffic signals alone for guidance.
  3. Teach them to use sidewalks and crosswalks. Set a good example, and explain why it's always important to look for a marked crosswalk -- even if they have to walk a little out of their way.

Despite your precautions, an accident may still happen. If you or your child is involved in a pedestrian accident, make sure that you fully understand your right to compensation for any injuries or losses.

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