With the school year back in full swing, parents should be aware of traffic safety and any special issues that may surround their local schools. Too often we see tragic stories of children being hit, injured and killed while walking to or from school. The time before and after school is particularly hectic for parents dropping and picking children up. They are often distracted by other children and ringing cell phones, sometimes trying to coordinate with their children via text. This is a recipe for heartbreak.
Child Traffic Accident Fatalities
It’s easy to for us to think that nothing bad will ever happen to our children. But the reality is, on average, three children were killed and approximately 470 injured in traffic accidents every day in 2013, according to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Here are some alarming facts about child pedestrians from 2013:
- 21% of traffic fatalities were children
- 15% of injured pedestrians in traffic accidents were children
- 81% of child pedestrian traffic fatalities occurred at non-intersection locations
Several factors combine to make children more exposed to traffic dangers:
- Children are smaller and less visible to drivers
- Children are easily distracted, especially when surrounded by other children
- Children have a narrower peripheral vision than adults
- Children don’t have the experience to navigate complex traffic situations
Tips for Parents of School Aged Children
While we can’t change the behavior of other drivers around schools, we can warn our children about the risks that they face while walking around the school property before and after school, and how they can protect themselves.
- Drive by example. Avoid cell phone use while driving at all times, but especially when children are in the car. Encourage your child to always use the sidewalks and crosswalks.
- Look both ways. Remind your children of the importance of looking both ways before crossing the street.
- Use caution around shrubs, walls and other visual hindrances. Drivers are unable to avoid children when they dart out from behind bushes or other places where visibility is limited to drivers, especially if the driver is distracted.
- Use Crosswalks. Yes, we’ve mentioned this before, but given the fact that 81% of child pedestrian traffic fatalities occur at non-intersection locations, we think it’s worth mentioning again.
- Teach Bicycle Safety. If your child rides their bike to school, be sure they are aware of proper bicycle safety practices. This includes walking their bike across intersections.
- Require seatbelts to be worn. If your child is carpooling with another parent, make sure you child understands that seat belts are always required when in the car.
- Bright colors are better. Visibility is a key issue in traffic collisions involving children. Insisting on a bright coat or backpack can save your child’s life.
- Lobby for safer schools. If your child’s school has particular traffic issues, lobby your local government and school district for better traffic management, more bike lanes and better visibility for drivers and pedestrians. If speeding is an issue, insist on local law enforcement presence during pick-up and drop off times.
Give Us a Call
If your child has been injured in a traffic accident while walking or biking before or after school, please call Douglas R. Horn, Lead Attorney at The Horn Law Firm. Horn offers free legal consultations and investigations. He is also working hard to protect children, especially when it comes to traffic safety issues clients. Call 816-795-7500 or contact us online.