Miami-Dade County had the highest incidence of pedestrian injuries and fatalities in the State and was third in the U.S. The rate of pediatric pedestrian injuries was also particularly high.
Recognizing the safety problem they were experiencing and the costs associated with it, the Florida Department of Transportation partnered with the Ryder Trauma Center at University of Miami — Miller School of Medicine to find the causes, effects, and possible solutions to the high pediatric pedestrian injury rate. Additional funding was provided by FedEx and The Children’s Trust, a tax-payer funded county trust.
The first phase consisted of a 4-month retrospective data review of hospital records, crash scene visits, patients, families, and police interviews. Among other findings, it was learned that the majority of children hurt were boys, and 60 percent were African American. Many sites had problems including obstruction of view and long intervals between marked intersections, allowing for high vehicle acceleration. In 2001, there were a total of 293 injuries among pedestrians under the age of 14 in the county. The group used the results of the study to shape the educational injury prevention program.
Between 2002 and 2005, the injury prevention program was implemented in 184 elementary schools in the county. Training was given to assistant principles and physical education teachers, who then were responsible for training the rest of the teachers in the school. The program included videos, workbooks, outside simulation activities, and two tests tailored to grades K – 3 and 4 – 5 respectively. The program was conducted over a 4 week period, with one half-hour session per week. In the future, it will be conducted over a three day period each year.
An evaluation in four pilot schools found that post-course scores were significantly higher than pre-test scores, and that these gains were maintained in a follow up test 3 months later. Following the initial countywide implementation of the WalkSafe program several years ago, there has been a decrease in the number of pedestrian injuries of children seen/admitted to the two Level 1 trauma centers in Miami-Dade County and in the county overall. The total dropped from 93 in 2002 – 03 to only 52 in 2005 – 06.