Every year, millions of school-age children across the U.S. walk or bike to school, which puts them in direct risk of being involved in an auto accident.
As reported in a prominent 2016 study, there were as many as 5 child pedestrian deaths per week within school zones.1
Personal injury lawyers and safety organizations find that most of these accidents occur within these zone due to distraction on the part of both drivers and pedestrians alike, yet it is every driver’s responsibility to be vigilant when passing through school zones to prevent these occurrences.
Personal injury claims attorneys agree that drivers can avoid a dangerous accident within school zones by observing these 5 crucial tips for safe passage through school zones.
1. Pay Attention to School Zones
As simple as the idea might seem to pay attention to school zones in front of schools, playgrounds, and other areas where children congregate, personal injury attorneys have found that many drivers do not pay enough attention when entering them.
Drivers should be looking for where these zones start prior to reaching them in order to slow down in time and be aware of all the activity within them.
Personal injury lawyers remind everyone that most school zones are preceded by multiple signs that may include flashing warning lights to alert drivers of the upcoming school hazard.
In addition, reports indicate that teenagers aged 12 to 19 are more likely to be distracted by the use of cell phones and wearing of headphones than younger-aged school children and as a result, have more walking accidents in school zones resulting from being distracted.1
As a result, drivers must be even more observant when approaching middle and high schools because of this disturbing trend with teenage student walkers.
2. Reduce Speed to Posted Limits
Reduce driving speed to posted speed limits before entering school zones which typically have a posted speed limit of 20 MPH or less.
These lower limits make it easier for drivers to stop quickly if necessary as well as reduce the severity of any car accident that might still happen within the zone.
Drivers should be able to stop their vehicles to avoid hitting someone or something without having to slam on the brakes to do it.
3. Look for Pedestrian Crossings and Crossing Guards
In addition to paying attention to speed signs, personal injury attorneys stress the need to look for crossing zones of any kind.
Expect to find crossing zones and stop for them whether they consist of a crosswalk alone or a corner being controlled by a crossing guard or police officer,.
Anticipate stop signs within school zones and know you may need to stop for kids and crossing guards in the road so you don't hit anyone that may be crossing the street going to or from the school.
4. Anticipate Higher Vehicle and Pedestrian Traffic
Personal injury attorneys warn that school zones can be very crowded areas due to the combination of lots of pedestrian traffic and many vehicles proceeding slowly and stopping often, so always expect delays and remain alert for everyone’s safety.
Drivers may encounter parked cars along the sides of the road, people walking and riding bikes, school buses stopping to let kids on or off, and other behaviors that can increase the chance of accidents if drivers are not paying attention.
5. Watch For Buses Stopped on the Road
While the more obvious school zones are those right in front of schools and playgrounds, personal injury lawyers stress that drivers remember to watch for school buses on the roads.
When buses stop to pick up or drop off kids, it is mandatory for all drivers in either lane to stop 20 or so feet from the bus once the flashing lights have been turned on and the stop sign has been extended from the driver's side of the bus.
This is yet another critical safety zone that all drivers must anticipate and recognize whenever sharing the road with school buses.
Avoid Preventable School Zone Accidents
Personal injury attorneys are aware that distracted driving is one of the main causes of traffic accidents and further point out that any distraction that happens within busy school zones can be deadly.
Every driver must do his or her part to actively look for these restricted safety areas and exercise caution within them.
In this way, the need for parents to require the assistance of personal injury claim attorneys after accidents involving children inside safe school zones will happen much less often!