Lutheran Children’s Hospital Promotes Pedestrian Safety with Kids dart. Drive smart. Campaign

Kickoff begins in residential neighborhood near a local school

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Monday, Aug. 2, 2010) — Lutheran Children's Hospital is again partnering with the Fort Wayne Fire Department and Indiana State Police to begin the Kids dart. Drive smart. campaign in northeastern Indiana. Kids dart. Drive smart. encourages drivers to reduce their speed in areas where children play and live.

A kickoff photo opportunity will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 4, at the corner of Fairfield Ave. and W. Fleming Ave. Trauma-Roo from Lutheran Children's Hospital and Spotz the fire dog from the FWFD will be placing signs in yards throughout the neighborhood. Representatives from Lutheran Hospital's verified Level II Trauma Center and Lutheran Children's Hospital, along with FWFD officials and supportive residents, will be available for comment. Paramedics from a mobile intensive care unit and a fire truck will also participate.

Local residents may pick up a free Kids dart. Drive smart. yard sign at any Allen County fire station from Aug. 4 through the end of September 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 local 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 unexpectedly dart into the street from between parked cars.

As families prepare to return to school, after school hours pose the greatest threat to children. In fact, 38 percent of all child pedestrian fatalities occurred between 3 and 7 p.m., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association.

Research has shown that, while children are aware of the danger automobiles present, younger children do not fully develop their depth perception until age 10. That can lead to kids running out into the street and in front of vehicles with little time for drives to avoid an accident.

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.

Lutheran Children's Hospital is distributing 3,000 signs throughout Fort Wayne and the surrounding areas. 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 .

Local sponsors of Kids dart. Drive smart. include Lutheran Children's Hospital, Riley Hospital for Children, Fort Wayne Fire Department, Allen County Fire Chiefs Association, Indiana State Police, Indiana's NewsCenter and WAJI Majic 95.1 FM.

Lutheran Children's Hospital opened in 1999 as a result of several local pediatricians who envisioned bringing families throughout northeastern Indiana access to expert pediatric medical care that wouldn't require a half-day's drive to receive. Today, Lutheran Children's Hospital teams with more than 75 pediatricians practicing in 27 areas of pediatric specialty in an environment filled with imagination and color. The award-winning design of the tree house elevator, specially decorated rooms, hallways and waiting areas invite children and their families to focus on something other than the often unpleasant purpose of their visit. Lutheran Children's Hospital believes children are special people, not just small adults.

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