School Zones and Pedestrian Safety during Back-to-School Season
After the usually relaxing downtime of the summer months, back-to-school season presents an increased risk of pedestrian accidents, particularly in school zones. More cars are on the roadways and more children become pedestrians in crosswalks near schools and in other areas, meaning they are increasingly exposed to drivers and therefore motor vehicle accidents. This blog post aims to explore some of the misconceptions and statistics related to pedestrian accidents in school zones the United States.
Child Pedestrian Statistics
It is estimated that approximately 100 children in the United States are killed every year while walking to or from school, and another 25,000 sustain child injuries as a result of school zone accidents.
Crossing zones near schools are always an area of focus for lawmakers and safety advocates, particularly when it comes to addressing the risk of school zone accidents. Maybe that’s due to the fact that a 2009 study from Safe Kids USA showed that one in six drivers in school zones is driving distracted.
Think about it; that means almost 17 percent of all drivers in school zones are putting kids at risk of a school zone accidents and potentially devastating injuries. It goes without saying that school zones are one of the most dangerous places for a distracted driver, if not the most.
Furthermore, additional studies have showed that the effects of distracted driving are relatively similar to those exhibited by drunk drivers. This means that those drivers are acting about as reckless as drunk drivers in marked zones designated for children to cross.
Myths about Pedestrian Laws
Kids aren’t as well-versed about traffic laws and safe practices as adults are; let’s face it, many adults aren’t even all that clear about the rules and regulations of crossing the street.
Many experts in the safety industry agree that the best way to improve safety and shift the approach to school zone accidents is through education. Kids with a better understanding of their surroundings and the laws they should abide by are likely to be less at risk of being involved in an accident as a pedestrian. Below, we address some of the myths associated with school zone accidents and some clarifying information that can better inform our children to prevent child injuries.
Tips for Pedestrians
- Cross with Caution: A “Walk” signal does not necessarily mean that the street is safe for crossing. It is important to check both directions of traffic before crossing the street; children should always look LEFT-RIGHT-LEFT before entering a crosswalk.
- Assume Drivers are Distracted: As we mentioned earlier, approximately one in six drivers in school zones is distracted by something else. Make sure cars are yielding to the crosswalk before attempting to cross the street.
- Keep an Eye Out: Other pedestrians may not always be as aware and prepared as you are. Stay alert and take charge if you see a potentially dangerous situation beginning to develop.
Tips for Drivers
- Assume Pedestrians are Present: Just because you don’t see a crossing signal does not mean that no pedestrians are in the crosswalk. If you see pedestrians waiting to cross, obey the law by coming to a stop and letting them cross the roadway.
- Keep Your Eyes Ahead: This is really a code to live by at all times behind the wheel, but we’d like to emphasize it in school zones particularly. Taking your eyes off the road for just a matter of seconds is extremely dangerous, especially when young children are present.
Being involved in a motor vehicle accident can be devastating and carry huge consequences for drivers, so staying alert in school zones pays off for everyone involved.