Children in Cleveland and across Ohio have already begun the 2019-2020 school year. Unfortunately, many drivers and commuters have not yet adjusted to the delays in traffic and upsurge of pedestrians and bicyclists.
The biggest risk to kids returning to school is not on the bus, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It’s when kids approach a bus or school zone or leave it.
Approximately 264 kids died in school-related accidents from 2008-2017. Of those who died, 203 were walking, waiting at a bus stop, riding a bicycle, or riding in a car.
What should drivers do?
For drivers, commuting to and from work during the summer months may have felt like a breeze. With the start of the school year, that has changed.
When approaching the long lines of traffic in school zones, it may be tempting to get impatient. The actions drivers take when in a rush can put others, especially children, at risk, however.
The NHTSA urges drivers to give themselves more time during their commute. They should also slow down and be prepared to stop when approaching bus stops and other areas where children may be walking or riding bicycles.
In addition, buses make frequent stops when picking up or dropping off students. Once the stop-arm is extended, it is unlawful and dangerous to pass. Pursuant to Ohio law (4511.75), drivers who do so, may be fined up to $500 for this infraction.
Teen drivers who commute to school are urged to ensure all vehicle occupants are buckled up, maintain a safe speed, and keep cellphones out of reach.
Safety tips for parents, walkers, and bicyclists
Parents need to be aware of and involved in the safety of their children when sending them to school. Children who take the bus should arrive five minutes before the scheduled bus arrival. In addition, the NHTSA suggests parents and children implement the SAFE method, which includes:
- Staying five steps away from the curb.
- Always waiting until the bus stops completely and the driver tells you to board before getting on.
- Face forward when seated on the bus.
- Exit the bus after it has come to a complete stop and look both ways before crossing the street.
For walkers, children under 10 should always be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Sidewalks should always be used if they are available. Otherwise, walkers should use the edge of the road facing traffic. Walkers should also use crosswalks if they are available and look left and right before crossing the street.
Bicyclists should always wear properly fitted helmets, ride in the same direction traffic moves, and obey all traffic signals and signs. Always use bicycle lanes if they are available and stay alert and attentive at all times.
The car accident attorneys at Merriman Legal, LLC hold drivers and other road users to the highest standard when it comes to the safety of children. If you or a loved one was injured in a crash, it’s critical that you get immediate medical attention and reach out to us to discuss your legal options. Contact us online today to set up your free consultation.