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Auto Accident Risks to Children Commuting to School

Anyone who has ever dropped a child off for school in the morning, driven through a school zone at the start of the day, or simply remembers their own school commute knows just how chaotic it can be. Throughout Arizona, there are more than one million students in over 2,200 schools. All of these children have to commute to their school in one way or another and none of the available methods are without risk of an auto accident.

Some children live near enough to walk or bike to school, and they must contend with the traffic of buses and parents dropping off other students. These kids and drivers are at risk of being involved in a pedestrian auto accident, a bus accident, a rear end accident, and backing up accidents in school parking lots.  With a better understanding of the risks, hopefully everyone can do their part to prevent school commute auto accidents.

Minimizing the Risks Associated with School Bus Riders

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Association reports that school bus riders are 50 times safer than children who are dropped off by cars. This is because school buses have been specifically designed for the improved safety of the children on board. Even so, with around 450 thousand school buses on the road in the US, there are still fatal accidents. Each year, an average of six US children will be killed by a school bus auto accident in which the child is the passenger. Although one is too many, this is a very small percentage of the 42 thousand auto accident fatalities that occur in the US each year and the 23.5 million bus riding students.

While very few children are killed as passengers on school buses, these vehicles pose a serious risk to pedestrians and other vehicles, frequently due to drivers who are distracted or the children who might not engage in appropriate bus safety behavior. When a child walks out in front of a bus, the driver might not have enough time to stop. Following are some of the most important tips for students and drivers to keep in mind when it comes to school buses:

  • Students must wait for a school bus to completely stop before boarding or exiting.
  • Students must understand and pay attention to the signals of bus drivers.
  • Students must wait for the bus driver’s signal to cross in front of the bus.
  • Students must also watch for other traffic when crossing.
  • Parents and schools must talk to children about bus traffic safety.
  • Drivers must be especially cautious around school buses.
  • Drivers must be prepared for frequent stops and maintain a safe distance.
  • Drivers must watch for children around bus stops and bus traffic.
  • Drivers must respond appropriately to bus signals, including the stop sign.
  • Drivers must not try to pass a school bus that is stopped.

Minimizing the Risks Associated with Bike Riders and Pedestrians

Many areas in Arizona are bicycle friendly, and many children and adults ride their bikes as a preferred form of transportation. When driving in a school zone, you have to expect to see children riding bikes and walking to and from school. The following tips will help everyone to minimize the risks associated with bike riders and pedestrians in school zones:

  • Students must watch for traffic when biking or walking to and from school.
  • Students must use bike lanes and sidewalks where available.
  • Students on bicycles must wear safety equipment, including a helmet.
  • Students must know the rules of the road and the meaning of car signals.
  • Parents and schools must talk to children about bicycle and pedestrian safety.
  • Drivers must expect and watch for bicycles and pedestrians.
  • Drivers must observe the posted school zone speed limits.

Minimizing the Risks Associated with Teenage Drivers

Another common issue in the mornings and afternoons in the areas around high schools is that there are a lot of kids who have recently gotten their driver’s licenses and are learning to navigate in the chaos of before and after school traffic. Teenage drivers are not only less experienced, but they are also more likely to be distracted and more likely to speed. The following tips are for teen student drivers and the drivers who are sharing the road with them:

  • Students must be extra vigilant when driving to and from school.
  • Students must avoid distractions from passengers, cell phones, radio, etc.
  • Students must watch for pedestrians and bicycles.
  • Students must give themselves plenty of time to get to school.
  • Parents and schools must talk to students about driving safety.
  • Other drivers must be aware of young drivers in school zones and exercise caution.
  • All drivers must obey the posted speed limits in school zones.

The Consequences of Not Following School Zone Laws in Arizona

It is essential to know and follow the laws associated with school zones in Arizona. Not only could this awareness save lives; it can also prevent you from getting a ticket or criminal charges for failing to follow those laws. In most school zones, the speed limit is posted between 15 miles and 25 miles per hour. In most cases, this will only apply during school hours, and will not apply during breaks and weekends. It is also important to behave appropriately at crosswalks. This means that you must slow when approaching a crosswalk, look for pedestrians and bicycles, and stop completely until everyone has safely crossed. In many cases, there will be a crossing guard near the school in the mornings and afternoons. You should pay attention to this person’s signals, and also keep an eye out for pedestrians, even when not being signaled to stop.

Do You Need to Talk to an Arizona Auto Accident Attorney About School Commute Injuries?

If you have been involved in a school commute auto accident in Arizona, contact a skilled Mesa, AZ car crash lawyer at Warnock MacKinlay Law to schedule a free consultation and learn about your options.

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