There’s a new parenting alert about kids crossing the street. An important new study by researchers at the University of Iowa is using virtual reality to explain why kids are significantly more vulnerable to accidents while navigating traffic. So, what did this study show about crossing streets? The danger is great if you have a child under the age of 14. Not until age 14 do children start crossing the street like an adult. The results: 6-year-olds in the simulation were hit by cars 8% of the time; 8-year-olds were struck 6% of the time; 12-year-olds were struck by cars 2% of the time. Those may seem like small numbers but they are huge and alarming to researchers. So, why does this happen? The study found that kids at these ages can actually find the gaps in traffic, they know that it’s time to go, but they hesitate — they’ll delay crossing the street. The other factor is a matter of motor skills. If you’ve ever played catch with a child, you throw the ball and it hits them in their chest and then they close their hands. The timing is off and this puts them at risk. So, how does the simulator work? Through virtual reality technology, kids are given the opportunity to time it out and try to figure out when to cross the street. A lot of kids will simply race across. When we put adults in the simulation, well, adults know how to cross the street, but the kids were hesitant in getting across. It’s a little scary. So, what do parents out there need to know to keep their kids safe? Find a safe route. If your kids walk to school, even if it’s longer route, fine, in needs to be a safe route. Also, do not have them cross any street anywhere cars don’t stop. There has to be a stop light or stop sign. Simply do not have them crossing in continuous traffic. You might need to call your local representative. You might need to touch base with folks in your community to ask them to say, hey, we need to set it up and have safe zones or have parents on duty. The key is to never have them cross where there is continuous traffic.