Back to School Road Safety

School and School Zones Have Returned

It’s that time of year where millions of kids return to school. While we are stunned at how fast the summer has gone, it’s a great time to remind everyone about the importance of keeping a safe look out and reducing your speed in school zones. Excitement is always in the air with the beginning of a new school year. As drivers, we become lax over the summer when it comes to school zones. We have to remind ourselves that not all children ride school buses. In fact, many walk, ride bikes and scooters to school. So, we have to look for students not just in the blocks around the school, but we have be generally aware of all traffic.

Reduce Your Speed

A reduction of speed from 20 mph to 20 mph cuts the distance required for stopping by 50 percent. Slower speeds dramatically decrease the severity of vehicle-pedestrian or vehicle-bicycle accidents.

Speed limits around schools are generally set at 25 mph to 20 mph. However, some communities have set the speed limit in school zones as low at 15 mph.

Slow down and be prepared to stop when turning or entering a crosswalk

Never pass vehicles stopped at a crosswalk. There may be people crossing where you cannot see.

In Illinois, motorists are prohibited from driving faster than 20 mph while passing a school zone on a day when children are present. Keep a look out for signs. By design, schools are most often located in and around residential areas. In reality, most of us should not be driving very fast through any residential area. Residential areas are where you find children playing and riding bikes. Likewise, residential areas most generally have a lot of pedestrians.

Speeding tickets in school zones while children are present can be a lot higher than speeding tickets on other roadways.

Pedestrian Fatalities and Injuries

In the last decade, pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries due to speed-related vehicle incidents has been on the rise. Alarmingly, a number of those occurred in school zones. According to the NHTSA, 25,000 children are injured annually and more than 100 are killed on average while walking to or from school–all as a result of speeding. It should not take a public tragedy such as we saw in Texas where a 15 yr old student lost his life. One is too many.

Obviously, getting your kid ready for school including shopping for supplies, clothes, can be a whole project. Additionally, parents work to make sure their kids have the best opportunities, sleep and mind set. But, then to have your kid involved in an incident with a vehicle is almost unthinkable. When a car inadvertently hits a child, it is traumatic for all involved. Even if the child runs out in front of you because they are not paying attention, it is traumatic to accidentally hit any pedestrian. Children often lack the maturity to always keep a careful look out for traffic–it is part of being a child. Thus, as drivers we have to keep a careful look out and reduce our speed when we know we are in a school zone.

At some point in the day or evening, almost all of us are a pedestrian at some point. Whether you walk to work, the grocery store or simply park and walk through a parking lot. Increasing awareness about keeping a look out for pedestrians impacts each of us and not just someone else. The NHTSA give helpful reminders for drivers as well as pedestrians:

  1. Follow the rules of the road and obey signs and signals
  2. Walk on sidewalks whenever they are available
  3. Cross streets or intersections, look for cars in all directions including those turning left or right
  4. Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections.
  5. If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area where you have the best view of traffic. Wait for a gap in traffic that allows enough time to cross safely and watch for traffic as you cross
  6. Watch for cars entering or exiting driveways and backing up in parking lots

Making School Zones Safer

According to Safe Kids Worldwide, half of all school zones in the US have speed limits above 20 miles per hour, while 30 percent lack marked crosswalks. Considering the number of bicyclists, pedestrians all in the immediate vicinity of a school drop-off or pick-up times, it all can culminate into a ripe situation for a disaster. There are things the community and school can do to improve safety around the school. Some of the most effective countermeasures that have shown improvement in safety include traffic calming tactics which are physical measures designed to created safe streets by slowing drivers down, lowering collision frequency and severity and reducing the need for the police enforcement while increasing access for different modes of transport.

Enhanced delineation–Also known as “rumble strips” are highly friction surface treatments that can allow for 52 percent reduction in west road crashes. Also, rumble strips notify the car operator to slow down

Traffic signals: Backplates with reflective borders can reduce crashes by 15 percent. Backplates added to a traffic signal indication improve visibility of the illuminated face of the signal by introducing a controlled contrast background

Turn Lanes– auxiliary turn lanes for left or right turns provide physical separation between turning traffic that is slowing or stopped and adjacent through traffic at approaches to intersections. Left and right lanes can reduce total crashes by 48 percent for left turn lanes and 26 percent for right turn lanes

Speed cameras are one of the best methods for slowing cars. Most people do not love speed cameras but they notice them and adjust their speed accordingly. A report by the CDC entitled “Automated Speed-Camera Enforcement” found that speed cameras reduced the total crashes anywhere from 8 percent to 49 percent and fatal and serious-injury crashes from 11 percent to 44 percent in studies that compared pre- and post-crash data collected near camera sites.

Keeping Kids Safe

Ultimately, we can all agree that we want children to be able to attend school safely. While there are a lot of pertinent issues about school safety, this is one area that each of us can have a positive impact daily. Each of us can help keep our kids safe through the driving choices we make. We can choose to slow down in school zones and keep a look out for kids on bicycles and pedestrians. We all have to remember that kids do not always have the maturity to always look twice. Most kids do practice a lot of safety in their commute to school. Most kids know how dangerous it can be around traffic. Safety in and around traffic haunts parents daily. Parents wonder if they have taught them well enough and reminded them enough to pay attention.

Help out the kids, parents, teachers and all of us by slowing down for school zones and taking extra care.

Crashes Do Occur

Until we get to zero crash rate, we have pedestrians and bicyclists are injured every day. Clearly, as a pedestrian or a bicyclist, you are far more vulnerable when involved in a collision with a motor vehicle. When a pedestrian or bicyclist is injured in a vehicle-related incident, the pedestrian and/or bicyclist does not always have a the right away. Auto insurance carriers know this and will most definitely fight your injury claim. For that reason, it is critical that you cross streets at the office crosswalks. In some municipalities, you are bared from making a pedestrian claim unless you are crossing in a cross walk. Yet, pedestrians and bicyclist are often injured so severely. If you are hurt, you will need an attorney.

If you are involved in any kind of vehicle incident, call the police immediately. The documentation that a police officer can provide through a report may prove critical in proving liability. After you have gone to the emergency room, call an attorney.

We are available seven day a week toll free 1.800.685.3302 or locally 314.276.1681

Prevent Pedestrian Crashes: Parents and Caregivers of Elementary School Children. NHTSA

Back to School: Keeping Children Safe. NHTSA

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The Cagle Law Firm serves accident and injury clients throughout St. Louis and the greater St. Louis metropolitan area, including the eastern Missouri and southern Illinois communities. If you or a loved one needs legal assistance with your personal injury case, call The Cagle Law Firm at (314) 276-1681 or use our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

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