The start of the school year can be exciting or disappointing, depending on your child. However, going back to school shouldn’t also be dangerous. Unfortunately for many children in California and elsewhere who walk or bike to school, the beginning of the school year spells danger.
As we have explained in previous posts, everyone is a pedestrian at some point. Your child can be at risk walking to the bus stop or crossing the parking lot on school grounds after you drop him or her off. The alarmingly high number of pedestrians killed in California illustrates this risk; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 867 pedestrian fatalities in California in 2016, the highest number in 10 years. Many of these, sadly, involved children.
What are the greatest dangers your child faces this back-to-school season? There are several factors that may contribute to pedestrian accidents involving children, including the following:
- Drivers being unaccustomed to children walking or biking during early-morning traffic
- Children sometimes behaving unpredictably near traffic, including running across the street and not obeying traffic rules
- Sun glare, fog, rain, frost and other weather conditions in the fall
- Motorists failing to stop at crosswalks or for buses letting off children
Now that you are aware of the risks, how do you protect your child? One of the most important things you can do is to have regular talks with your child about traffic safety. Teach him or her to always cross at designated crosswalks, with a crossing guard if possible. It is also important for your child to understand bus safety rules, such as not crossing the street directly in front of the bus where it is difficult for the driver to see pedestrians. Instruct your child to always be aware of his or her surroundings, to watch for vehicles coming out of driveways and side streets and not to text while walking. You may be eligible to seek compensation if your child suffers an injury because of a negligent driver.