by Texas Christian injury lawyer, Tim O’Hare
Another summer has come and gone and the kids are headed back to school. A new school year means school zones are active again, so it’s important that all drivers pay close attention when driving through school zones.
Drivers using caution in an active school zone is about more than avoiding a fine and court costs if you break the law — following the laws regarding school zones is about protecting our children. According to NHTSA, an average of 18 school-age children die in school transportation-related crashes each year. Of those, six are occupants of a school transportation vehicle, while the other 12 are pedestrians.
As the kids head back to school, it is important to review school zone safety, for both pedestrians and drivers.
In most states, including Texas, the use of cell phones is strictly prohibited in school zones, including school parking lots and drop off lanes. Some states specify hand-held cell phones. Put down the phone when driving through an active school zone. That conversation can wait, and isn’t worth the risk of potentially hitting a child crossing the street.
The speed limit in an active school zone drops to 20mph. Even if you’re in a hurry, don’t rush through a school zone. Our kids’ lives are precious. Slow down. Receiving a traffic ticket in a school zone can cost you double what it would if you were pulled over outside a school zone.
Teach school-aged children the importance of paying attention while crossing the street. While slower speed limits and crosswalk guards help, it is important that children crossing the street pay close attention to traffic, look both ways before crossing the street, and don’t rely solely on the crosswalk guard to get them across safely.
As you prepare to send your child back to school, take a few minutes to review these school bus and school crossing safety tips from the NHTSA with your child:
1. Always get to the bus stop at least five minutes before the bus is due to arrive.
2. Never run across the road to catch the bus.
3. If you have to walk on roads where there is no sidewalk, walk against traffic. Try to stay off the road as much as possible.
4. When crossing the street to get to the bus, always look left, then right, then left again. If cars or other objects are obstructing your view, go to the nearest corner crosswalk.
5. When the bus approaches, stand at least three large steps from the curb.
6. Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says it’s okay to board before stepping onto the bus.
7. Never walk behind the bus or close to the side of the bus. You could be in the driver’s blind spot.
8. If you drop something near the bus, don’t pick it up until you tell the bus driver or he or she may not see you.
It is our responsibility as adults to not only teach our children to be safe, but to make a habit of always practicing safe driving, especially in school zones. Put away any hand-held devices when driving through school zones, observe the posted speed limit, and watch for children crossing the street. If you are unsure if a school zone is active, always assume it is.
If you or your child has been hurt as the result of a school transportation-related accident, contact The Law Offices of Tim O’Hare for a free consultation with a Dallas car accident injury attorney.
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