We recently kicked off the 2019-2020 school year in Hazleton. For students, parents, and commuters, adjusting to the school season may not be easy.
Drivers often have to stay extra attentive and be prepared for a longer commute. Getting impatient and speeding in a school zone only increases the risk of a serious crash.
What is the greatest danger children face?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the greatest danger to children returning to school isn't on the bus. It's when children are approaching or leaving a bus or school zone.
From 2008-2017, approximately 264 children died in crashes related to school transportation. Of those that died, 203 were walking, standing at a bus stop, riding a bicycle, or riding in a car.
How can kids stay safe at bus stops and school zones?
NHTSA offers safety tips for drivers, parents, walkers, bicyclists, student drivers:
- Drivers: Now that the school year is in session, drivers must give themselves more commuting time. Buses stop frequently when picking up students, and once the stop-arm is extended, drivers are required to stop. In addition, drivers must be prepared for increases in traffic around school zones.
- Parents: According to the NHTSA, school buses are the safest mode of transportation for children. Parents should ensure that their children arrive at the bus stop at least five minutes prior to the scheduled arrival. You may ask the school principal if your district offers a Safe Routes to School Program, which is a Federal-Aid program which provides funds to states to improve safety for walkers and bicyclists. In addition, parents should teach their kids to employ the SAFE method:
- Stay five steps away from the curb.
- Always wait until the bus comes to a complete stop and the bus driver tells you to board.
- Face forward after finding a seat on the bus.
- Exit the bus when it stops and look left-right-left for cars before crossing a street.
- Walkers: Children who live close to their schools will likely walk. The NHTSA urges parents or guardians to accompany children under age 10 in order to ensure they get to and from school safely. Walkers should take the following precautions in order to stay safe:
- Use the sidewalk as much as possible. If there isn't one available, walk on the edge of the road facing traffic.
- Use any crosswalks that are available when crossing the street.
- Always look left and right before crossing.
- Avoid playing or pushing along the side of the road.
- Stay attentive and keep cellphones put away.
- Bicyclists: When riding a bicycle to school, always wear a properly fitted helmet, ride in the same direction traffic is moving, follow all traffic signs and signals, use available bike lanes, and avoid distraction.
- Student drivers: Teens who receive their driver's licenses enjoy new-found freedom of operating a car. However, teen drivers are inexperienced and often like to take risks. NHTSA urges teen drivers to do the following:
- Ensure all car occupants are wearing seatbelts.
- Obey the speed limit.
- Keep cellphones out of reach and avoid other distractions.
The attorneys at Law Offices of Edward P. McNelis take the safety of our children seriously. We hope for a safe school year and urge road users to slow down and stay attentive. If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash, contact our law office in Hazleton to discuss your legal options.