Back to School Traffic-Stay Alert to Reduce Pedestrian Incidents
Posted on August 12th, 2019 by Zane Cagle
Back to School Traffic Zones
So many schools have or are immediately preparing to return to session. Where has the summer gone?! Summer is never long enough, just as winter always seems too long. But, while we lament the ending of summer, we do need to be reminded of the school speed zones. We all must keep a look out for children! While you may have been scooting through school zones over the summer, we all have to SLOW DOWN and observe all reduced speed limits in and around schools. Furthermore, even though school begins in the morning and ends anywhere from 2:30-4 p.m., we each have to remember that students will be walking through many, many blocks around the school.
Furthermore, all pedestrian traffic picks up when school returns from primary age children to adults at university. There are so many, many schools in the greater St. Louis area that you have to be ever vigilant to slow down around school zones. Help drive down the number of pedestrian injuries and fatalities through awareness.
Pedestrian Fatalities in the U.S.
In the United States in 2018, there were 6,227 pedestrians killed. That was an increase of 250 more people than in 2017 according to the Governor’s Safety Association. Pedestrian fatalities have increased 41 percent in the US since 2008 and now account for 16 percent of all traffic fatalities. This increase is the highest it has been since 1990. There are several contributing factors including America’s love of larger vehicles, growing populations in many states, distraction of smart phone usage and relatively lower gas prices. Americans have chosen larger, more heavy vehicle such as SUV’s and crossovers. We feel more secure and safe, plus these types of vehicles maneuver better in bad weather and have multiple uses. As well, because they are heaver, they can do greater damage to a pedestrian and since the vehicle rides higher, it is estimated that visibility is often reduced when it comes to seeing pedestrians. It is estimated that pedestrian fatalities involving SUV’s has jumped 50 percent.
Another critical factor that is impacting pedestrian incidents is use of smartphones. Both drivers and pedestrians are distracted looking at their phones. Anytime, a driver or a pedestrian is not looking where they are going, the likelihood for an incident increases. In some ares, population has simply grown increasing the frequency of people and traffic intersecting. Relatively cheap gas prices (in relation to previous decades proportionately) have increased the miles traveled for all vehicles. Again, increased miles and traffic contribute to increased opportunity for incidents.
Busy School Zones- Be a Part of the Safety Solution
So, most everyone should be familiar with the heavy pedestrian traffic in and around elementary, middle and high schools during the school year. But, we always have a period of time that it takes for some people to transition in awareness. In addition to public and private pre-Kindergarten through high school, the greater St. Louis areas has many community colleges and several major universities.
St. Louis Public will be returning over 30,000 students this year, K-12 only. Suburban and private school contribute almost that many not to mention community colleges and universities. Chances are, you know a student. By design, schools are positioned within residential neighborhoods. However, over time and due to transportation demands for students and staff (and growth of communities), major thoroughfares pass very closely to these schools. As the driver of a vehicle, you have to be ever conscious that you are probably near and around a school unless you are traveling down an interstate. When in residential areas, the speed limit is expected to be low thus, if you find yourself traveling over 20-30 mph, you are going too fast. Whether school is in session or not, children play in those neighborhoods. We all have a responsibility to look out for pedestrians and keep all children safe. Likewise, we want other drivers to pay close attention and slow down in the school zones were our children attend.
Schools have always focused on safety. Getting students safely into school and home has always been high on the safety priority list. Unfortunately, these days schools are having to become safety super-specialists as well as educators, so do you part and contribute to the traffic solution for safety around school zones. Simply slow down so that you can brake quickly if needed. While you must always slow down in official school zones, staff and students need you to be extra aware during the beginning of the year.
Awareness is the First Step
So often, simply reminding drivers and making them aware of possible safety problems really contributes to reducing pedestrian incidents. There are few things more horrible than a vehicle striking a child. This scenario is traumatic for the child, family of the child and the driver. Most of us don’t focus on the driver, obviously. But, inadvertently hitting a pedestrian is a traumatic event for any driver. I would do reminders every day if I thought I could prevent everyone from being involved in a pedestrian crash. Due to the physics of the scenario, the pedestrian is usually seriously injured if not killed. The number of pedestrian injures and fatalities is not readily available through local policing groups, but from news articles we know it happens to frequently. Reducing those numbers especially in school zones can be done through driver awareness.
Observe Crosswalks and Traffic Lights
Too often, I hear from individuals, “The pedestrian always has the right-of-way”. This is incorrect. In fact, in many metropolitan areas, if a pedestrian fails to cross at the appropriate crosswalk and follow the signals, they are barred from making an injury claim if they are struck by a vehicle. While operating your vehicle as if pedestrians always have the right-of-way is considerate, it is in fact not true. As I drive around downtown St. Louis, I am well aware that there are pedestrians who operate under this misunderstanding. Standing in traffic or crossing when traffic has a green light can be fatal.
So, adult pedestrians and child pedestrians are still both pedestrians. However, we all do understand that children, especially young children, do not often understand the danger of road crossing. Or, the younger children may momentarily forget. Again, the point of this article is to reduce and do away with pedestrian incidents especially in school zones.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a pedestrian incident, you will need legal assistance. If you have been injured as a pedestrian by a vehicle, there will be liability arguments. Depending on where it happens, how it happens and witnesses, your case can quickly become complex. We much prefer to evaluate your claim early and give you the much needed information that you will need to pursue a claim for injuries.
We are available seven days a week, toll free 1.800.685.3302 or locally 314.257.0480