Drivers and School Zone Safety – You Are Responsible!
Sept. 16, 2015
With school starting again, drivers should anticipate increased road traffic and especially watch for children in school zones. Motorists need to be aware of safety zones to prevent accidents around schools, playgrounds, and other areas where children are. Sadly, many injury claims lawyers handle cases involving incidents that happen within school safety zones. Accident lawyers and personal injury attorneys stress that all drivers must pay close attention when driving through school zones to avoid injury to a child or anyone else.
Where Are School Safety Zones Found?
School zones are areas outside of schools and playgrounds. This also includes the area immediately around any type of school bus or transport vehicle when children are being picked up or dropped off. School zones are safety zones specifically designed to keep children safe on their way to and from school. Whether walking, biking, being dropped off or picked up by cars or school buses, accident prevention requires a driver's careful attention in these safety areas.
School Zone Accidents Statistics
Despite distinctly marked safety areas, personal injury attorneys report that more children are hit by cars traveling within school zones than in any other location.1 Additionally, data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states there were 327 school-aged children killed in school zones from 2004 to 2013, making it the highest fatality group involving children. Of these, 116 were pedestrians, 54 were occupants of school transport vehicles, 147 were riding in other vehicles, and 9 were riding bicycles.2 The time period between 7 to 8 a.m. and 3 to 4 p.m. are the most prevalent times when these fatalities occurred. They are the times when children are normally going to and returning from school.
Driver Responsibility for School Zone Safety
Vehicle drivers are required to slow down to the posted speed limit within a school zone and school safety areas, including the area around school transport vehicles, playgrounds, and any other places marked as such. Drivers should be able to stop in time at that speed if a child should dart out in front of them. Drivers are also required to stop on both sides of the road when school bus stop signs are out and red lights are flashing. Unfortunately, accident lawyers say many incidents happen when people ignore or fail to observe these speed limit signs. This action can result in driving into a school transport vehicle or striking children crossing in a designated school crosswalk area. Additionally, speed limits on streets around schools are lower than most other streets, which is unfortunately ignored as well.
Accident lawyers stress that vehicle drivers must be observant and obey all speed limits, traffic signs, crossing guards, and other signals including those on school transport vehicles to promote safety within a school or child safety zone. Drivers must pay close attention and look out for the possibility that a child will cross their path in order to avoid a potentially devastating accident. Injury claim lawyers, personal injury attorneys, and child safety organizations agree that most of these accidents are preventable. Prevention does require that all drivers use caution and pay careful attention to walking children and any vehicles traveling within a school zone!
1 - National Safety Council, Slow Down: Back to School Means Sharing The Road, 2015
2 - National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Back to School Safety Advisory, 2015