Distracted drivers are responsible for hundreds of deaths and accidents every year and Safe Kids Missoula is asking Missoula drivers to especially aware of children who may not be properly using crosswalks this spring.

Safe Kids Program and Engagement Manager Kevi Berger spoke to KGVO News and appealed to Missoula drivers.

“Safe Kids Missoula has joined with Drive Safe Missoula to raise awareness about pedestrian safety and we wanted to provide some tips for kiddos to walk to school safely and then also raise awareness of distracted driving,” began Berger.  “This month is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and there is a correlation between distracted drivers and pedestrian safety.”

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Berger provided some disturbing statistics about distracted driving and pedestrian deaths.

“If you think about it, one of the statistics we have is that in 2019 6 percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes,” she said. “If you think 6 percent is a low number, that's actually 50,930 drivers who were involved in fatal crashes in that 2019 time frame.”

Berger provided more statistics on vehicle versus pedestrian crashes.

“On average a pedestrian was killed every 85 minutes and was injured every seven minutes in traffic crashes,” she said. “Here in Missoula, we realized that there are a lot of things going on. Traffic is starting to pick up now that COVID has lessened a bit and people are getting back to their outdoor activities. Schools and work are now in person, and we wanted to work together just to raise awareness to put the cell phones down.”

Berger also asked parents to help children behave in a safe manner while walking to and from school or when playing with friends.

“Let's give some walking tips to our kiddos to keep safe, teaching them to look left and right before crossing the street,” she said. “They also need to put their phones and headphones and devices down. Watch where they're walking, walk on the sidewalks, cross at the street corners, use the traffic lights. And then of course if your kiddos are under age 10 we want to make sure that somebody that is over the adult age is watching them, and then we're helping them to keep safe as well.”

For more information call Safe Kids Missoula at (406) 926-2522 or visit safekids.org. You can also call Drive Safe Missoula at (406) 258-3880 or visit drivesafemissoula.com.

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