National Safety Council: be aware of children going back to school
August is Back to School Safety Month across the United States. The National Safety Council is reminding drivers to remember to watch out for children.
It may seem too early yet for Saint Paul residents to worry about back-to-school shopping and other school matters when summer is still in full swing. However, there is never a bad time to consider the dangers that traffic poses to pedestrians, particularly children. Also, drivers should understand that children may be walking around traffic any time of the year, not just during school months. This is one of the reasons that the National Safety Council has designated August as Back to School Safety Month. School starts at the end of August for most students in Minnesota, and even earlier for some.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children are among those most at risk of being hit and killed by cars. Most children who are involved in pedestrian accidents are struck by cars near schools. Tragically, school buses play a large part in many child pedestrian accidents, especially for those between the ages of four and seven, who may be either hit by a bus driver or by someone who was illegally driving past a bus that was stopped to let children cross the street.
Back to School Safety Month – a good time to remember pedestrian awareness
Awareness and prevention are, of course, much better ways to reduce the chances of an accident, compared to a tragic reminder. During Back to School Safety Month, the NSC will be encouraging drivers to always be aware that children can be nearby at any time. It is also important for drivers to understand that children can be unpredictable around traffic. They may run into the street without looking for approaching traffic or engage in dangerous horseplay just a few feet away from fast-moving cars. Additionally, younger children are less able to recognize hazards, such as knowing how fast a car is approaching or how far away it is.
In addition to school zones, drivers should be vigilant for children in the following areas:
- Residential neighborhoods
- Playgrounds and parks
- Community swimming pools
Observing traffic laws is crucial for drivers, in order to reduce the chances of a pedestrian accident occurring. Once school has resumed, drivers should reduce their speed in a school zone and remember to always stop when a bus has pulled over with its safety lights flashing and safety arm extended. They should not block a crosswalk at a red light or stop sign, which may force pedestrians to walk too close to traffic when crossing the street. Drivers should always stop for crossing guards or others assisting children in walking across the street, and should never attempt to pass a bus or other vehicle that is stopped to let people cross.
Despite observing safety rules, there is always the possibility an accident may occur. If you or your child was injured in a pedestrian accident, you may wish to contact an experienced Saint Paul personal injury attorney to discuss your options.