Guided by some big, red feet

KAPAA – No darting. No dashing. Just street smart crossing for all Kauai children. 

That is the goal of the McDonald’s Restaurants of Hawaii’s Pedestrian Safety Decal Installation Program. The oversized red shoe prints of the fast food chain’s mascot, Ronald McDonald, will mark the intersections near Wilcox, Kalaheo, Kilauea, Hanalei and St. Catherine Elementary schools. 

The program is part of the State of Hawaii’s Pedestrian Safety Awareness Month in August and supported by the state Department of Transportation and the state Department of Education. The shoe prints are accompanied by a bold message in red and yellow reminding students to, “stop,” and, “look both ways,” before crossing the street.

Celine Haigh, St. Catherine’s principal, appreciated the shoe print installation on Tuesday, which was the second day of the 2014-15 school year at the Kapaa school. Most other Kauai schools start class on Friday. Haigh said her teachers stress community and road awareness, especially among their younger students.

“We tell them to make eye contact with a driver before they step off the curb,” Haigh said. 

But she has noticed cars driving above the speed limit in the school’s neighborhood.

“I would say whenever drivers see children anywhere, walking or riding their bikes, drivers should slow down,” Haigh said. “Children’s movements can be somewhat unpredictable.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than likely children will find themselves crossing a street without an adult at least once before they turn 10 years old. Unfortunately, they report more than half of young children observed in a study crossing streets engaged in unsafe street-crossing behavior. 

“We tell our students, if a ball goes over the fence, don’t go out on the road after it,” Haigh said. 

The Hawaii Pedestrian Toolbox May 2013 report explains that because children have a shorter field of vision due to their small stature, children are less able to determine the direction, speed and distance of oncoming sounds. They are sometimes too small to be seen by motor vehicles traveling at a fast speed or by inattentive drivers.

Haigh explained how the school encourages kids to be active by participating in the islandwide first Thursday of the month walk to school days. 

“We also try to get parents to walk with their children that day,” Haigh said. “It’s good exercise.” 

Over the past three years, McDonald’s has installed 66 decals in more than 50 elementary schools.  This fall 31 of Ronald’s bright red shoe print safety decals will be installed at 25 elementary schools statewide.

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