According to the National Safe Roads to School Program, more children are hit by cars near schools than at any other location. Children can be impulsive and don’t always keep safety in mind. Even children of the same age or in the same grade can vary in their ability to handle traffic, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) advises that, generally, children are not ready to cross the street alone until the age of ten. Therefore, it’s important for drivers and parents to be attentive when children are present, especially before and after school hours. The following are some tips to keep in mind now that school’s open again.
- Slow down. In Massachusetts the speed limit in a school zone is 20 mph for good reason. A driver’s visual field and reaction time decreases as speed increases. In addition, the American Automobile Association (AAA) reports that a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 20 mph is 60% less likely to be killed than a pedestrian struck by a vehicle traveling 30 mph.
- Allow plenty of time. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus in either direction that is stopped to load or unload children. In Massachusetts passing a school bus with flashing red lights can lead to a fine $250.00 for a first offense. For a second and third offense, the penalty increases to a fine of $500.00 and $1000.00, and a six month and one year administrative loss of your driver’s license, respectively. If you know that your route will encounter a school bus, remember to plan more time into your routine or commute so you won’t feel tempted to speed or make up for delays in other unsafe ways.
- Leave a greater following distance behind a school bus. The area ten feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children, and Massachusetts law requires motorists traveling behind a school bus to keep back 100 feet. If you’re unsure how much room that is, keep in mind that a standard school bus is 45 feet long. Leave enough room for two more school buses ten feet apart to fit in front of you.
- When dropping off or picking up children, don’t double park. Double parking cuts down significantly on visibility for pedestrians and other vehicles. Also, drop off and pick up children so that they exit or enter your vehicle from a sidewalk or safe area, never a street.
- Be aware of bicycles, skateboards and scooters. With children using a variety of means to commute to and from school, drivers must be alert to alternate forms of transportation at the sides of a road. The most common form of collision with a bicycle is a driver turning left in front of a bicycle. Also, remember to check your side mirrors for pedestrians or bicycles before opening a car door.
Contact Attorney Bob Allison if your child was injured in a pedestrian accident. You may call him at 978-740-9433 or fill out an online contact form. We will set up a free consultation with you to discuss your case.