Back to School & Preventing Pedestrian Accidents
It’s that time of year again-where kids across Washington state will bus, ride, or walk their way to school. Other parts of the country, like Idaho, have already been in full-swing for a week now. That means lots of young children are very close to roads and busy traffic as they make their way to and from class. Although every effort is made to clearly mark school zones, designate drop-off and pick-up areas, and control speed around school areas, young pedestrian accidents invariably still happen. Studies have shown, that every year nationwide, approximately 25,000 children are hurt or injured in school zone accidents.
Maybe going ‘Back to School’ is the perfect time to review simple school zone safety tips—because, chances are, we’ve all had our driving “know-how” tested by yellow buses, children on bikes and people in crosswalks.
A school zone refers to an area of the street near a school or near a crosswalk leading to a school that likely has the presence of younger pedestrians. School zones generally have a reduced speed limit during certain hours.
Don’t rush through a school zone. Commutes could take a little longer, especially if you live near schools and bus routes, but it’s not worth injuring anyone. Avoid driving distractions, like your cell phone or coffee, while you’re driving near schools and children. Take a note of the time school starts and leave a few minutes early if you can’t afford the delays.
Reduce your speed and follow the speed limit signs leading up to school zones—because every child deserves to be safe, especially when heading to school. Unfortunately, inattentive driving habits can change safe zones into danger zones! By staying alert, and reducing the speed of travel to under 20 miles per hour, a driver has greater ability to make sudden stops in the school zone, if necessary. “Hovering” a foot over the brake makes for quicker reaction times, especially if a student inadvertently drops their backpack or runs after a bouncing ball. Always remember to slow down. Safety first.
Prevent Pedestrian Accidents and School Bus Accidents
The ten-foot area in front of a school bus is the most dangerous zone for children. Be alert because children can be unpredictable and sometimes ignore hazard warnings. It’s also the area that drivers behind the bus cannot see at all. So, when you are around a yellow bus………. anticipate that there will be children nearby!
If you are driving behind a bus, keep some extra distance between you. Buses make multiple stops and you don’t want to hit the back of it because you were following too closely or got distracted. As soon as those yellow lights start flashing, anticipate it will be stopping soon. When the red lights start flashing and the stop sign is extended—STOP. Those flashing safety lights indicate to motorists that children will be disembarking and either crossing against oncoming traffic or are in an area you cannot see. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children. View more back to school safety tips for drivers here.
Many districts are installing cameras in school buses to catch the safety violators. Citations for passing a bus with flashing lights or an extended stop sign out is $394 in Washington state and $116.50 in Idaho. It’s a pricy penalty for putting kids in potential danger.
Preventing Bicycle Accidents
Rules of the Road: bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as vehicles. And when it comes to children riding bikes to school, families need to do their homework ahead of time to determine traffic, congestion, distance, and safety concerns. Bicyclists may get the same privileges as motorists, but not all children know the law or are mature enough to exercise judgement or skill in navigating the roads with motor vehicles. Here are some things to keep in mind if your child is biking to school this year:
- Always wear a helmet. It can reduce head injuries by as much as 85%. Make sure that it fits properly.
- If riding on the road, install front and rear lights to the bike so that your child is more visible to motorists. Teach your child how to properly secure them so they don’t get stolen between rides.
- When possible, arrange for a group of kids to ride together. Safety in numbers is wise counsel.
- Know the route your child takes to school. Sometimes the most direct route is not the safest. Look for areas that have wide shoulders, bike lanes, and lower traffic.
- Always cross at intersections and designated crosswalks. Look left, right, and left again before travelling on.
- Teach your child to anticipate on-coming traffic and potential bike/car accidents. These tips and skills could save a life! Check out this website for smart riding strategies for your young cyclist.
Follow the direction of crossing guards. They are there to ensure everyone uses a crosswalk properly for safety reasons. They give guidance and supervision for pedestrians and school motorists. If they are using a paddle sign, it is just as important as a posted sign. If the crossing guard’s STOP paddle is up, do not drive through a crosswalk—no matter what!
Check out the signs around the school. Many posts prohibit or designate areas that are known safety concerns for your children. Don’t ignore them. Some signs are useful in controlling the flow of traffic, especially during drop-off and pick-up times. Setting a good example by obeying the law and looking out for others is a safety lesson well-taught. https://www.topdriver.com/education-blog/school-zone-safety/
Back to School time brings a lot of moving elements that can test even the most conscientious of drivers. When it comes to school zones, remember to stay alert for the buses, the children on bicycles, and all the little ones in the crosswalks.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a Back to School accident, don’t hesitate to contact Fielding Law Group today for help.
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