Native Americans have the highest rates of pedestrian injury and death of any group in the United States. In fact, adult pedestrian death rates for Native Americans are almost 3.5 times that of the general population. For Native American children, the pedestrian death rate is almost four times that of the overall population of the United States.
Alaska has 229 federally recognized tribes, about 40 percent of the 562 nationwide, so there are a lot of tribal zones in the state. Because many of Alaska’s tribal zones are in rural areas, we don’t have some of the traffic problems as tribal zones in the Lower 48. The highest pedestrian annual death rates per 100,000 tribal citizens are in the Plains states, with 6.5 deaths per 100,000 compared to 1.4 nationally. Alaska has a death rate of 3.5 per 100,000, which is lower than the top rate but still more than twice the national average.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has released a video, “Tribal School Zone Safety,” designed to teach school kids how to safely walk to school. The DVD, which is free if you order it from the link, also includes a second video that teaches parents, school officials and tribal administrators how to make sure their children’s routes to school are safe for them to walk. The first video features students from several tribal schools around the country as they learn how to check traffic, how to wear reflectives and bright colors for visibility, and why they need to turn off their iPods and cell phones so they can hear what’s going on around them. There also is a tool kit for teachers who want to use the first video in their lesson plans. You can preview the videos and see the tool kit if you go to the link.
Since International Walk (or Bike) to School Day is this Wednesday, Oct. 7, the video is worth watching for both parents and educators. Click here to learn more about the Alaska Safe Routes To School program, and click here to go to the National Center for Safe Routes To School page.